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J Neurosci. 2019 Nov 27;39(48):9598-9610. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2687-18.2019. Epub 2019 Oct 18.

Dorsal Hippocampal Actin Polymerization Is Necessary for Activation of G-Protein-Coupled Estrogen Receptor (GPER) to Increase CA1 Dendritic Spine Density and Enhance Memory Consolidation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211.
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211


Activation of the membrane estrogen receptor G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) in ovariectomized mice via the GPER agonist G-1 mimics the beneficial effects of 17β-estradiol (E2) on hippocampal CA1 spine density and memory consolidation, yet the cell-signaling mechanisms mediating these effects remain unclear. The present study examined the role of actin polymerization and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation in mediating effects of dorsal hippocampally infused G-1 on CA1 dendritic spine density and consolidation of object recognition and spatial memories in ovariectomized mice. We first showed that object learning increased apical CA1 spine density in the dorsal hippocampus (DH) within 40 min. We then found that DH infusion of G-1 increased both CA1 spine density and phosphorylation of the actin polymerization regulator cofilin, suggesting that activation of GPER may increase spine morphogenesis through actin polymerization. As with memory consolidation in our previous work (Kim et al., 2016), effects of G-1 on CA1 spine density and cofilin phosphorylation depended on JNK phosphorylation in the DH. Also consistent with our previous findings, E2-induced cofilin phosphorylation was not dependent on GPER activation. Finally, we found that infusion of the actin polymerization inhibitor, latrunculin A, into the DH prevented G-1 from increasing apical CA1 spine density and enhancing both object recognition and spatial memory consolidation. Collectively, these data demonstrate that GPER-mediated hippocampal spinogenesis and memory consolidation depend on JNK and cofilin signaling, supporting a critical role for actin polymerization in the GPER-induced regulation of hippocampal function in female mice.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Emerging evidence suggests that G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) activation mimics effects of 17β-estradiol on hippocampal memory consolidation. Unlike canonical estrogen receptors, GPER activation is associated with reduced cancer cell proliferation; thus, understanding the molecular mechanisms through which GPER regulates hippocampal function may provide new avenues for the development of drugs that provide the cognitive benefits of estrogens without harmful side effects. Here, we demonstrate that GPER increases CA1 dendritic spine density and hippocampal memory consolidation in a manner dependent on actin polymerization and c-Jun N-terminal kinase phosphorylation. These findings provide novel insights into the role of GPER in mediating hippocampal morphology and memory consolidation, and may suggest first steps toward new therapeutics that more safely and effectively reduce memory decline in menopausal women.


GPER; actin polymerization; cofilin; hippocampus; object recognition; spatial memory

[Available on 2020-05-27]

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