The formation of normal long-term memory (LTM) requires alterations in gene expression and protein synthesis in neurons. These changes are critical for modifications in synaptic function and proceed through a time dependent consolidation process after training. Recent evidence strongly suggests that when a stable LTM is later recalled and moves into an active state, the neural substrate for this memory requires a period of """"""""reconsolidation"""""""" that depends on some of the same cellular processes involved in initial memory formation. This project addresses the importance of two cellular processes in the formation and stability of memory: protein translation controlled by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, and protein degradation through the ubiquitin-proteosome system. We use Pavlovian fear conditioning in rodents as an established model system in which several brain structures critical for memory formation and storage have been identified. Using quantitative protein assays we will measure the activity of mTOR and related molecular targets at multiple behaviorally relevant brain sites during the formation and retrieval of LTM and test a series of specific hypotheses about the role of this translational control pathway in learning. We will also assess the importance of protein degradation in the formation and stability of memory and begin to analyze the interactions between activity dependent synthesis of new synaptic protein and its targeted degradation. The results should provide important new insights regarding the neurobiology of memory and the molecular events that underlie learning. These finding may help to identify important new therapeutic targets in the treatment of memory and anxiety disorders.

Public Health Relevance

This project addresses basic neurobiological questions about the formation and storage of long-term memory. The cellular mechanisms to be addressed here are and have little attention in whole animal studies and may form the basis for important new treatments for memory disorders, age related memory impairment, and diseases that affect synaptic plasticity and cognitive function. A better understanding of how fear memory is stored will also improve therapeutic approaches to anxiety disorders such as PTSD and phobias.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-M (02))
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Asanuma, Chiiko
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University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Cullen, Patrick K; Ferrara, Nicole C; Pullins, Shane E et al. (2017) Context memory formation requires activity-dependent protein degradation in the hippocampus. Learn Mem 24:589-596
Ferrara, Nicole C; Cullen, Patrick K; Pullins, Shane P et al. (2017) Input from the medial geniculate nucleus modulates amygdala encoding of fear memory discrimination. Learn Mem 24:414-421
Kwapis, Janine L; Jarome, Timothy J; Ferrara, Nicole C et al. (2017) Updating Procedures Can Reorganize the Neural Circuit Supporting a Fear Memory. Neuropsychopharmacology 42:1688-1697
Jarome, Timothy J; Ferrara, Nicole C; Kwapis, Janine L et al. (2016) CaMKII regulates proteasome phosphorylation and activity and promotes memory destabilization following retrieval. Neurobiol Learn Mem 128:103-9
Kwapis, Janine L; Jarome, Timothy J; Lee, Jonathan L et al. (2015) The retrosplenial cortex is involved in the formation of memory for context and trace fear conditioning. Neurobiol Learn Mem 123:110-6
Balderston, Nicholas L; Schultz, Douglas H; Hopkins, Lauren et al. (2015) Functionally distinct amygdala subregions identified using DTI and high-resolution fMRI. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 10:1615-22
Kwapis, Janine L; Helmstetter, Fred J (2014) Does PKM(zeta) maintain memory? Brain Res Bull 105:36-45
Gilmartin, Marieke R; Balderston, Nicholas L; Helmstetter, Fred J (2014) Prefrontal cortical regulation of fear learning. Trends Neurosci 37:455-64
Balderston, Nicholas L; Schultz, Douglas H; Baillet, Sylvain et al. (2014) Rapid amygdala responses during trace fear conditioning without awareness. PLoS One 9:e96803
Kwapis, Janine L; Jarome, Timothy J; Helmstetter, Fred J (2014) The role of the medial prefrontal cortex in trace fear extinction. Learn Mem 22:39-46

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