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Curr Biol. 2009 Jan 13;19(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.11.056. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Lack of DREAM protein enhances learning and memory and slows brain aging.

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División de Neurociencias, Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla, Carretera de Utrera Km. 1, 41013-Sevilla, Spain.

Erratum in

  • Curr Biol. 2009 Aug 11;19(15):1332.


Memory deficits in aging affect millions of people and are often disturbing to those concerned. Dissection of the molecular control of learning and memory is paramount to understand and possibly enhance cognitive functions. Old-age memory loss also has been recently linked to altered Ca(2+) homeostasis. We have previously identified DREAM (downstream regulatory element antagonistic modulator), a member of the neuronal Ca(2+) sensor superfamily of EF-hand proteins, with specific roles in different cell compartments. In the nucleus, DREAM is a Ca(2+)-dependent transcriptional repressor, binding to specific DNA signatures, or interacting with nucleoproteins regulating their transcriptional properties. Also, we and others have shown that dream mutant (dream(-/-)) mice exhibit marked analgesia. Here we report that dream(-/-) mice exhibit markedly enhanced learning and synaptic plasticity related to improved cognition. Mechanistically, DREAM functions as a negative regulator of the key memory factor CREB in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner, and loss of DREAM facilitates CREB-dependent transcription during learning. Intriguingly, 18-month-old dream(-/-) mice display learning and memory capacities similar to young mice. Moreover, loss of DREAM protects from brain degeneration in aging. These data identify the Ca(2+)-regulated "pain gene" DREAM as a novel key regulator of memory and brain aging.

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