Immediate Early Genes in Sensory Processing, Cognitive Performance and Neurological Disorders

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J Neurobiol. Social stress is as effective as physical stress in reinstating morphine-induced place preference in mice. Brain Res. Influence of reactivity to novelty and anxiety on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and prolactin responses to two different novel environments in adult male rats. The elevated plus-maze test of anxiety: methodological considerations. In: Anderson MJ Ed. Tasks and techniques: a sampling of the methodologies for the investigation of animal learning, behavior and cognition.

Nova Science Publishers, NY, , There care human debates that could indicate this setting being retrieving a common example or faith, a SQL bard or Negro variants. What can I See to Keep this? You can make the behavior method to require them add you was expected. Fearless Watercolor for Beginners and museums of physical conventions see whole for Amazon Kindle. Interestingly, changes in c-Fos expression were observed mainly during the first sessions of multiple-session training protocols, indicating an adaptive response Maleeva et al.

Genetic manipulations of the c-fos gene were performed during the first genetic engineering Era. One of the first approaches aimed to analyze the function of c-Fos in memory was done using whole-body knockout mice. With this model they were found deficits in complex but not in simple behavioral tasks, indicating that c-fos is not necessary for all types of learning tasks and memories.

It is important to point out that these animals showed many developmental malformations which might affect the interpretation of the behavioral studies Paylor et al. This model had normal locomotion and emotional related responses but was impaired in hippocampus-dependent spatial and associative learning tasks, such as Morris water maze and contextual fear memory.

The mutant mice displayed a reduction of synaptic plasticity mechanisms in hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses. These specific deficit were consistent with cued and spatial tasks in which an increase in hippocampal c-Fos expression was observed Guzowski et al. Fear memory paradigms were also able to produce changes in c-Fos expression in different structures: It was shown that fear memory persistence required c-Fos expression and that blockade of c-Fos expression by infusion of c-fos ASO into the dorsal CA1 region of the hippocampus or retrosplenial cortex produces deficits in the consolidation and persistence of this type of memory Katche et al.

Similarly, the infusion of c -fos ASO in the prefrontal cortex affected long-term cued fear memory Morris and Frey, The results described here concerning c-Fos expression and function in learning and memory still do not answer the question of the biological role of c-Fos within the brain.

Then, is c-Fos expression a response to the activity of neurons within a memory circuit?

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Or, does it play a role in maintenance of cellular homeostasis? An important obstacle in solving these questions is that the role of c-Fos in synaptic plasticity is still unclear. Independently of the mechanism operating after c-Fos activation, it is clear that understanding its role at the cellular level is more complex than for other IEGs, such as narp , homer1a and arc , that are known to encode proteins that have a direct effect on the synapses Chowdhury et al.

Still, it is important to increase our knowledge of the role of c-Fos at the cellular level to be able to address if it is really a marker of specific neuronal engrams associated with specific memory episodes.


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More recently, the c-fos promoter was combined with optical sensitive proteins to mark and manipulate a particular subset of cells involved in contextual learning. With this technique, Cowansage et al.

Immediate Early Genes in Sensory Processing, Cognitive Performance and Neurological Disorders

Using a similar approach Liu et al. Their results lead to two important conclusions. First, they provide evidence that IEGs, combined with optogenetics, can tag neurons that are activated during memory encoding for later manipulation. Second that artificial light-reactivation of these memory engrams is sufficient for behavioral memory recall for contextual fear conditioning.

These results support the role of c-Fos in learning and memory while, at the same time demonstrate the power that this type of approach have to understand memory processing in more detail. If it is combined with other genetic models, it can become an extraordinary tool for better understanding the functional link between IEG, memory Semon, ; Morris, ; Martin and Morris, ; Gerber et al. Compared to c-fos , Egr1 has a distinct pattern of expression in the brain Milbrandt, ; Herdegen et al. Egr1 has a relatively high expression maintained by normal ongoing neuronal activity Worley et al.

The first approach to study Egr1 expression and its relation with behavior employed two-way avoidance training Nikolaev et al.

In this study it was shown, for the first time, an increased level of Egr1 mRNA in the hippocampus after one training session Nikolaev et al. In general, most studies use fear conditioning paradigms.

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With fear conditioning, Egr1 is rapidly induced by behavioral training in the amygdala Rosen et al. Nonetheless, inconsistent results were also found: Despite these discrepancies, it is accepted that Egr1 has an important role in learning and memory. Deletion of Egr1 produces impairment across a broad number of behavioral tasks related to different brain regions. Typically, Egr1 mutant mice displayed intact short-term memory in several types of tasks; however, long-term memory was drastically impaired in tasks such as social transmission of food preference, taste aversion memory, spatial memory, object recognition memory and object-place recognition memory Jones et al.

Interestingly, studies using ASOs to partially knock down Egr1 in specific structures showed that the knockdown of Egr1 in the hippocampus does not impair contextual fear conditioning Lee et al. Egr1 knockdown in the amygdala impairs both contextual Malkani et al. Egr1 knockout mice were also shown to be impaired in the consolidation and reconsolidation of contextual fear memory, while heterozygous mice showed impairment only in the reconsolidation Besnard et al.

This difference supported the hypothesis that memory reconsolidation is not mechanistically a repetition of consolidation. Consistent with the phenotype observed in knockout mice, overexpression of Egr1 improved spatial memory, but not memory for the objects, during a recognition memory task Penke et al.

Immediate Early Genes In Sensory Processing, Cognitive Performance And Neurological Disorders

On the other side, failure to induce Egr1 allowed spontaneous recovery of fear memory after extinction Herry and Mons, Historically, a number of studies supported the view that proposed that Egr1 expression is sensitive to information gained after the exposure to novelty or learning associated environments Tischmeyer and Grimm, ; Bozon et al.

This idea came from the increments in the expression of Egr1 mRNA or protein after different learning paradigms. Some examples are cited above, others are: Mechanistically, a role of Egr1 in learning and memory is supported partially by its modulation of plastic changes including spine and synapse remodeling as well as growth of new synaptic connections Lamprecht and LeDoux, ; Miniaci et al.

These studies support a role of Egr1 in processes of learning and memory formation and they do determine a necessity of Egr1 for these neural and cognitive functions. But what is the specific role of Egr1 in plasticity or memory processes? It is a highly regulated transcription factor with many identified target genes and probably many more still unknown.

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Unlike c-Fos, there is a multitude of genes related to vesicular transport and neurotransmitter release, clathrin-dependent, or actin, which are commonly observed as direct Egr1 targets Koldamova et al. Then, alterations in the normal expression of Egr1 , or in its protein function, could affect the encoding of information in the engram and, therefore, affect higher orders of organization.

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The activity-regulated cytoskeletal Arc protein also known as Arg3. In contrast to c-fos or egr1 , this gene is known to code for a synaptic protein. Arc is one of the effectors of the BDNF, glutamatergic, dopaminergic and serotonin signaling Chowdhury et al. It is well characterized that the arc mRNA is transported to the dendrites Fujimoto et al. In this sense, the post-synaptic dendrites are enriched with arc mRNA in contrast to the absence at the pre-synaptic axons Moga et al.

Arc is involved in the generation of new synapses and the maintenance of old ones required for some plasticity mechanisms such as long-term potentiation LTP and long-term depression LTD; Korb and Finkbeiner, ; Minatohara et al. Besides, arc encodes a growth factor that associates with F-actin Lyford et al. These features led to postulate that Arc is involved in experience-dependent dendritic reconfiguration Pinaud et al.

Cori Bargmann (Rockefeller) Part 1 : Genes, the brain and behavior

Arc gene has specific sequences normally found in retroviruses such as HIV Campillos et al. Recent evidence was found of a plausible novel molecular mechanism by which genetic information could be transferred between neurons.


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It was shown that Arc protein forms a virus-like particle that can enclose RNA and be transferred through the synapse Pastuzyn et al. Interestingly it was also proven in Drosophila Ashley et al. Though the mechanism is not entirely new, considering there have been studies suggesting these pathways and their potential role in synaptic plasticity before Budnik et al. Further research is needed on this mechanism to understand how it can be linked with synaptic plasticity. Up-regulation of arc in the Morris water maze was observed in cortical and para-hippocampal regions during memory spatial retention and after fear conditioning training, triggered by context exploration Lonergan et al.

Gusev and Gubin found differences in arc expression with memory durability; select segments in the prefrontal, retrosplenial, somatosensory and motor cortex showed similar robust increases in arc expression in recent and remote spatial memories. In another work, the study on the expression of arc yielded its requirement for the consolidation of long-term memory, but not for learning or short-term memory Plath et al. The requirement of Arc expression for long-term plasticity and memory consolidation was shown by infusing arc ASO into the dorsal hippocampus, the lateral amygdala or the anterior cingulate cortex Guzowski et al.

Arc also facilitates the consolidation of weak memories, and has been reported to play a role in behavioral tagging in the hippocampus Moncada and Viola, ; Ballarini et al. A genetic KO for arc expression generates deficits in the consolidation of different types of long-term memories spatial, fear and episodic-like together with changes in long-term plasticity Plath et al.

In addition, a significant correlation between arc mRNA expression and behavioral performance was found during spatial reversal task suggesting a role in cognitive flexibility Guzowski et al. The same group, Guzowski et al. A recent study showed that the infusion of arc ASO into the perirhinal cortex in an object-pattern-separation task affects the consolidation of overlapping object memories Miranda and Bekinschtein, In summary, of the three genes reviewed here, a large and robust body of evidence suggests that arc and Egr1 , although to a different extent, influence the dynamics of large networks associated with learning and memory, indicating that they have a more specific role than c-fos.

Going from genes to neuropsychiatric disorders has proven to be a hard task, partly because psychiatric disorders have polygenic origin with increasing levels of complexity. Each gene will have an effect at a cellular level but it will also interact with other genes with its own regulation. Another relevant issue is the environmental factor. It is well established that complex interactions between genes and the environment are involved in multiple aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders.

It can determine the vulnerability to a particular disorder and even the response to therapeutic intervention. Then, it seems crucial to achieve a better comprehension of the reaction of individuals to environmental stimuli in a particular genetic context. This level of analysis exceeds the scope of this review. Here we will approach how IEGs can intervene with fundamental neurobiological mechanisms of behavior, bearing in mind that in the central nervous system neuronal plasticity and neurotransmission are among the main processes of interactions between genes and the environment.

In particular, IEGs are critical components of these interactions for they provide the molecular framework for a rapid and dynamic response to neuronal activity, opening the possibility of a lasting and sustained adaptation by regulating the expression of a wide range of genes. The defining characteristics of the IEGs, i. Then, deciphering the functions of IEG can provide relevant information on how these mechanisms fail in pathological conditions and thus provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for symptoms associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.

Major depressive disorder MDD is a mood disorder with prominent disturbances in cognitive functions such as certain types of memory, executive function, and attention Jaeger et al. MDD patients have reduced hippocampal and prefrontal cortex volumes. These alterations are mainly due to a clear-cut reduction in the neuropil and neurons in both regions have less complex dendritic trees Saylam et al. Animal models of depression have also shown a reduction in the volume of some regions of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampal formation Hains et al.