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Hippocampus. 2002;12(6):821-33.

Transcriptional profiling reveals regulated genes in the hippocampus during memory formation.

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Department of Neurology, Center for Neurologic Disease, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Harvard Med Sch, Boston, MA


Transcriptional profiling (TP) offers a powerful approach to identify genes activated during memory formation and, by inference, the molecular pathways involved. Trace eyeblink conditioning is well suited for the study of regional gene expression because it requires the hippocampus, whereas the highly parallel task, delay conditioning, does not. First, we determined when gene expression was most regulated during trace conditioning. Rats were exposed to 200 trials per day of paired and unpaired stimuli each day for 4 days. Changes in gene expression were most apparent 24 h after exposure to 200 trials. Therefore, we profiled gene expression in the hippocampus 24 h after 200 trials of trace eyeblink conditioning, on multiple arrays using additional animals. Of 1,186 genes on the filter array, seven genes met the statistical criteria and were also validated by real-time polymerase chain reaction. These genes were growth hormone (GH), c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase (c-kit), glutamate receptor, metabotropic 5 (mGluR5), nerve growth factor-beta (NGF-beta), Jun oncogene (c-Jun), transmembrane receptor Unc5H1 (UNC5H1), and transmembrane receptor Unc5H2 (UNC5H2). All these genes, except for GH, were downregulated in response to trace conditioning. GH was upregulated; therefore, we also validated the downregulation of the GH inhibitor, somatostatin (SST), even though it just failed to meet criteria on the arrays. By during situ hybridization, GH was expressed throughout the cell layers of the hippocampus in response to trace conditioning. None of the genes regulated in trace eyeblink conditioning were similarly affected by delay conditioning, a task that does not require the hippocampus. These findings demonstrate that transcriptional profiling can exhibit a repertoire of genes sensitive to the formation of hippocampal-dependent associative memories.

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