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Nat Neurosci. 2008 Nov;11(11):1319-26. doi: 10.1038/nn.2198. Epub 2008 Sep 28.

Beta-catenin is required for memory consolidation.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.


beta-catenin has been implicated in neuronal synapse regulation and remodeling. Here we have examined beta-catenin expression in the adult mouse brain and its role in amygdala-dependent learning and memory. We found alterations in beta-catenin mRNA and protein phosphorylation during fear-memory consolidation. Such alterations correlated with a change in the association of beta-catenin with cadherin. Pharmacologically, this consolidation was enhanced by lithium-mediated facilitation of beta-catenin. Genetically, the role of beta-catenin was confirmed with site-specific deletions of loxP-flanked Ctnnb1 (encoding beta-catenin) in the amygdala. Baseline locomotion, anxiety-related behaviors and acquisition or expression of conditioned fear were normal. However, amygdala-specific deletion of Ctnnb1 prevented the normal transfer of newly formed fear learning into long-term memory. Thus, beta-catenin may be required in the amygdala for the normal consolidation, but not acquisition, of fear memory. This suggests a general role for beta-catenin in the synaptic remodeling and stabilization underlying long-term memory in adults.

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