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Hippocampus. 2016 Jun;26(6):752-62. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22556. Epub 2016 Jan 20.

Improved specificity of hippocampal memory trace labeling.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Division of Integrative Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI)/Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. (RFMH), New York, New York.
Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia University (BRAINYAC), New York, New York.


Recent studies have focused on the identification and manipulation of memory traces in rodent models. The two main mouse models utilized are either a CreER(T2) /loxP tamoxifen (TAM)- or a tetracycline transactivator/tetracycline-response element doxycycline-inducible system. These systems, however, could be improved to label a more specific population of activated neurons corresponding to behavior. Here, we sought to identify an improved selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator (SERM) in which we could label an individual memory trace in ArcCreER(T2) mice. We found that 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT) is a selective SERM in the ArcCreER(T2) × Rosa26-CAG-stop(flox) -channelrhodospin (ChR2)-enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (eYFP) mice. The half-life of 4-OHT is shorter than TAM, allowing for more specificity of memory trace labeling. Furthermore, 4-OHT allowed for context-specific labeling in the dentate gyrus and CA3. In summary, we believe that 4-OHT improves the specificity of memory trace labeling and will allow for refined memory trace studies in the future.


Arc; Hippocampus; c-fos; learning; memory

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