Insights into immediate-early gene function in hippocampal memory consolidation using antisense oligonucleotide and fluorescent imaging approaches

Hippocampus. 2002;12(1):86-104. doi: 10.1002/hipo.10010.


In the 14 years since it was discovered that specific genes could be dynamically regulated in the brain by neural activity, there has been a substantial research focus attempting to understand the role immediate-early genes (IEGs) play in various brain functions. This article examines the involvement of IEGs in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and in memory consolidation processes performed by the hippocampus. Studies employing conventional IEG detection methodologies and a novel gene-imaging approach that provides temporal and cellular resolution (cellular compartment analysis of emporal activity by fluorescence in situ hybridization or catFISH) provide evidence supporting the assertion that IEG expression reflects the integration of information processed by hippocampal neurons. However, IEG expression is not merely correlated with neural activity, but also plays a pivotal role in stabilizing recent changes in synaptic efficacy. As such, localized disruption of IEGs Arc or c-fos by intrahippocampal administration of antisense oligonucleotides or germline disruption of the IEGs c-fos, tissue plasminogen activator, or zif268 impairs consolidation of long-term memory formation, without affecting learning or short-term memory. Further investigation into the expression and function of IEGs using catFISH and antisense approaches will likely increase understanding of the molecular and cellular bases of information processing involving the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genes, Immediate-Early*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Rats


  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense