De novo transcription of DNA is a fundamental requirement for the formation of long-term memory. It is required during both consolidation and reconsolidation, the posttraining and postreactivation phases that change the state of the memory from a fragile into a stable and long-lasting form. Transcription generates both mRNAs that are translated into proteins, which are necessary for the growth of new synaptic connections, as well as noncoding RNA transcripts that have regulatory or effector roles in gene expression. The result is a cascade of events that ultimately leads to structural changes in the neurons that mediate long-term memory storage. The de novo transcription, critical for synaptic plasticity and memory formation, is orchestrated by chromatin and epigenetic modifications. The complexity of transcription regulation, its temporal progression, and the effectors produced all contribute to the flexibility and persistence of long-term memory formation. In this article, we provide an overview of the mechanisms contributing to this transcriptional regulation underlying long-term memory formation.
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