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Neuroscience. 2011 May 5;181:117-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.02.034. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA expression reveals a subcellular trace of prior sound exposure in adult primary auditory cortex.

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Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Acquiring the behavioral significance of sound has repeatedly been shown to correlate with long term changes in response properties of neurons in the adult primary auditory cortex. However, the molecular and cellular basis for such changes is still poorly understood. To address this, we have begun examining the auditory cortical expression of an activity-dependent effector immediate early gene (IEG) with documented roles in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation in the hippocampus: Arc/Arg3.1. For initial characterization, we applied a repeated 10 min (24 h separation) sound exposure paradigm to determine the strength and consistency of sound-evoked Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA expression in the absence of explicit behavioral contingencies for the sound. We used 3D surface reconstruction methods in conjunction with fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to assess the layer-specific subcellular compartmental expression of Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA. We unexpectedly found that both the intranuclear and cytoplasmic patterns of expression depended on the prior history of sound stimulation. Specifically, the percentage of neurons with expression only in the cytoplasm increased for repeated versus singular sound exposure, while intranuclear expression decreased. In contrast, the total cellular expression did not differ, consistent with prior IEG studies of primary auditory cortex. Our results were specific for cortical layers 3-6, as there was virtually no sound driven Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA in layers 1-2 immediately after stimulation. Our results are consistent with the kinetics and/or detectability of cortical subcellular Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA expression being altered by the initial exposure to the sound, suggesting exposure-induced modifications in the cytoplasmic Arc/Arg3.1 mRNA pool.

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