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J Neurosci. 2009 Feb 4;29(5):1496-502. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5057-08.2009.

Transgenerational rescue of a genetic defect in long-term potentiation and memory formation by juvenile enrichment.

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  • 1Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences and Department of Biochemistry, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.

Abstract

The idea that qualities acquired from experience can be transmitted to future offspring has long been considered incompatible with current understanding of genetics. However, the recent documentation of non-Mendelian transgenerational inheritance makes such a "Lamarckian"-like phenomenon more plausible. Here, we demonstrate that exposure of 15-d-old mice to 2 weeks of an enriched environment (EE), that includes exposure to novel objects, elevated social interactions and voluntary exercise, enhances long-term potentiation (LTP) not only in these enriched mice but also in their future offspring through early adolescence, even if the offspring never experience EE. In both generations, LTP induction is augmented by a newly appearing cAMP/p38 MAP kinase-dependent signaling cascade. Strikingly, defective LTP and contextual fear conditioning memory normally associated with ras-grf knock-out mice are both masked in the offspring of enriched mutant parents. The transgenerational transmission of this effect occurs from the enriched mother to her offspring during embryogenesis. If a similar phenomenon occurs in humans, the effectiveness of one's memory during adolescence, particularly in those with defective cell signaling mechanisms that control memory, can be influenced by environmental stimulation experienced by one's mother during her youth.

PMID:
19193896
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3408235
Free PMC Article
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