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Learn Mem. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):617-24.

An egr-1 (zif268) antisense oligodeoxynucleotide infused into the amygdala disrupts fear conditioning.

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Program in Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.

Erratum in

  • Learn Mem. 2004 Nov-Dec;11(6):797.


Studies of gene expression following fear conditioning have demonstrated that the inducible transcription factor, egr-1, is increased in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala shortly following fear conditioning. These studies suggest that egr-1 and its protein product Egr-1 in the amygdala are important for learning and memory of fear. To directly test this hypothesis, an egr-1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (antisense-ODN) was injected bilaterally into the amygdala prior to contextual fear conditioning. The antisense-ODN reduced Egr-1 protein in the amygdala and interfered with fear conditioning. A 250-pmole dose produced an 11% decrease in Egr-1 protein and reduced long-term memory of fear as measured by freezing in a retention test 24 h after conditioning, but left shock-induced freezing intact. A larger 500-pmole dose produced a 25% reduction in Egr-1 protein and significantly decreased both freezing immediately following conditioning and freezing in the retention test. A nonsense-ODN had no effect on postshock or retention test freezing. In addition, 500 pmole of antisense-ODN infused prior to the retention test in previously trained rats did not reduce freezing, indicating that antisense-ODN did not suppress conditioned fear behavior. Finally, rats infused with 500 pmole of antisense-ODN displayed unconditioned fear to a predator odor, demonstrating that unconditioned freezing was unaffected by the antisense-ODN. The data indicate that the egr-1 antisense-ODN interferes with learning and memory processes of fear without affecting freezing behavior and suggests that the inducible transcription factor Egr-1 within the amygdala plays important functions in long-term learning and memory of fear.

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