Infoscience

Journal article

Nuclear protein phosphatase-1: an epigenetic regulator of fear memory and amygdala long-term potentiation

Complex brain diseases and neurological disorders in human generally result from the disturbance of multiple genes and signaling pathways. These disturbances may derive from mutations, deletions, translocations or rearrangements of specific gene(s). However, over the past years, it has become clear that such disturbances may also derive from alterations in the epigenome affecting several genes simultaneously. Our work recently demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms in the adult brain are in part regulated by protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), a protein Ser/Thr phosphatase that negatively regulates hippocampus-dependent long-term memory (LTM) and synaptic plasticity. PP1 is abundant in brain structures involved in emotional processing like the amygdala, it may therefore be involved in the regulation of fear memory, a form of memory related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in human. Here, we demonstrate that PP1 is a molecular suppressor of fear memory and synaptic plasticity in the amygdala that can control chromatin remodeling in neurons. We show that the selective inhibition of the nuclear pool of PP1 in amygdala neurons significantly alters posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of histones and the expression of several memory-associated genes. These alterations correlate with enhanced fear memory, and with an increase in long-term potentiation (LTP) that is transcription-dependent. Our results underscore the importance of nuclear PP1 in the amygdala as an epigenetic regulator of emotional memory, and the relevance of protein phosphatases as potential targets for therapeutic treatment of brain disorders like PTSD.

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