Lack of DREAM protein enhances learning and memory and slows brain aging

Curr Biol. 2009 Jan 13;19(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.11.056. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Memory deficits in aging affect millions of people and are often disturbing to those concerned. Dissection of the molecular control of learning and memory is paramount to understand and possibly enhance cognitive functions. Old-age memory loss also has been recently linked to altered Ca(2+) homeostasis. We have previously identified DREAM (downstream regulatory element antagonistic modulator), a member of the neuronal Ca(2+) sensor superfamily of EF-hand proteins, with specific roles in different cell compartments. In the nucleus, DREAM is a Ca(2+)-dependent transcriptional repressor, binding to specific DNA signatures, or interacting with nucleoproteins regulating their transcriptional properties. Also, we and others have shown that dream mutant (dream(-/-)) mice exhibit marked analgesia. Here we report that dream(-/-) mice exhibit markedly enhanced learning and synaptic plasticity related to improved cognition. Mechanistically, DREAM functions as a negative regulator of the key memory factor CREB in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner, and loss of DREAM facilitates CREB-dependent transcription during learning. Intriguingly, 18-month-old dream(-/-) mice display learning and memory capacities similar to young mice. Moreover, loss of DREAM protects from brain degeneration in aging. These data identify the Ca(2+)-regulated "pain gene" DREAM as a novel key regulator of memory and brain aging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Electrophysiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins / deficiency*
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins / genetics
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins / metabolism
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Creb1 protein, mouse
  • Csen protein, mouse
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • DNA Primers
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • DNA
  • Calcium