Regulation of synaptic plasticity and cognition by SUMO in normal physiology and Alzheimer's disease

Sci Rep. 2014 Dec 2:4:7190. doi: 10.1038/srep07190.


Learning and memory and the underlying cellular correlate, long-term synaptic plasticity, involve regulation by posttranslational modifications (PTMs). Here we demonstrate that conjugation with the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) is a novel PTM required for normal synaptic and cognitive functioning. Acute inhibition of SUMOylation impairs long-term potentiation (LTP) and hippocampal-dependent learning. Since Alzheimer's disease (AD) prominently features both synaptic and PTM dysregulation, we investigated SUMOylation under pathology induced by amyloid-β (Aβ), a primary neurotoxic molecule implicated in AD. We observed that SUMOylation is dysregulated in both human AD brain tissue and the Tg2576 transgenic AD mouse model. While neuronal activation normally induced upregulation of SUMOylation, this effect was impaired by Aβ42 oligomers. However, supplementing SUMOylation via transduction of its conjugating enzyme, Ubc9, rescued Aβ-induced deficits in LTP and hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. Our data establish SUMO as a novel regulator of LTP and hippocampal-dependent cognition and additionally implicate SUMOylation impairments in AD pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • SUMO-1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Sumoylation / physiology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • SUMO-1 Protein