Long-lasting regulation of hippocampal Bdnf gene transcription after contextual fear conditioning

Genes Brain Behav. 2012 Aug;11(6):651-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2012.00805.x. Epub 2012 May 30.


Long-term memory formation requires de novo protein synthesis and gene transcription. During contextual long-term memory formation brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression changes in conjunction with alterations of DNA methylation in the Bdnf gene. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the maintenance and persistence of contextual long-term memory. Here, we examined the transcription of specific Bdnf exons in the hippocampus for long periods after contextual fear conditioning. We found changes in transcription lasting for at least 24 h after contextual fear conditioning, with some sex-specific effects. In addition, hypomethylation at a CpG site in CpG island 2 located at the end of Bdnf exon III sequence was detected at 0.5 h and maintained for up to 24 h after contextual fear conditioning. The identification of these long-lasting changes in transcription and DNA methylation at the Bdnf gene suggests that BDNF might have a role for storage of contextual long-term memory in the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor