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Neurobiol Dis. 2012 Aug;47(2):210-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Ampakines promote spine actin polymerization, long-term potentiation, and learning in a mouse model of Angelman syndrome.

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Department of Biological Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder largely due to abnormal maternal expression of the UBE3A gene leading to the deletion of E6-associated protein. AS subjects have severe cognitive impairments for which there are no therapeutic interventions. Mouse models (knockouts of the maternal Ube3a gene: 'AS mice') of the disorder have substantial deficits in long-term potentiation (LTP) and learning. Here we report a clinically plausible pharmacological treatment that ameliorates both deficits. AS mice were injected ip twice daily for 5 days with vehicle or the ampakine CX929; drugs of this type enhance fast EPSCs by positively modulating AMPA receptors. Theta burst stimulation (TBS) produced a normal enhancement of field EPSPs in hippocampal slices prepared from vehicle-treated AS mice but LTP decreased steadily to baseline; however, LTP in slices from ampakine-treated AS mice stabilized at levels found in wild-type controls. TBS-induced actin polymerization within dendritic spines, an essential event for stabilizing LTP, was severely impaired in slices from vehicle-treated AS mice but not in those from ampakine-treated AS mice. Long-term memory scores in a fear conditioning paradigm were reduced by 50% in vehicle-treated AS mice but were comparable to values for littermate controls in the ampakine-treated AS mice. We propose that AS is associated with a profound defect in activity-driven spine cytoskeletal reorganization, resulting in a loss of the synaptic plasticity required for the encoding of long-term memory. Notably, the spine abnormality along with the LTP and learning impairments can be reduced by a minimally invasive drug treatment.

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