cAMP response element-binding protein-mediated gene expression increases the intrinsic excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons

J Neurosci. 2007 Dec 12;27(50):13909-18. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3850-07.2007.


To investigate the role of CREB-mediated gene expression on the excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons, we obtained intracellular recordings from pyramidal neurons of transgenic mice expressing a constitutively active form of CREB, VP16-CREB, in a regulated and restricted manner. We found that transgene expression increased the neuronal excitability and inhibited the slow and medium afterhyperpolarization currents. These changes may contribute to the reduced threshold for LTP observed in these mice. When strong transgene expression was turned on for prolonged period of time, these mice also showed a significant loss of hippocampal neurons and sporadic epileptic seizures. These deleterious effects were dose dependent and could be halted, but not reversed by turning off transgene expression. Our experiments reveal a new role for hippocampal CREB-mediated gene expression, identify the slow afterhyperpolarization as a primary target of CREB action, provide a new mouse model to investigate temporal lobe epilepsy and associated neurodegeneration, and illustrate the risks of cell death associated to a sustained manipulation of this pathway. As a result, our study has important implications for both the understanding of the cellular bases of learning and memory and the consideration of therapies targeted to the CREB pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / genetics
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Handling, Psychological
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiopathology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Survival Rate
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics


  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins