Prothymosin alpha-deficiency enhances anxiety-like behaviors and impairs learning/memory functions and neurogenesis

J Neurochem. 2017 Apr;141(1):124-136. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13963. Epub 2017 Feb 21.


Prothymosin alpha (ProTα) is expressed in various mammalian organs including the neuronal nuclei in the brain, and is involved in multiple functions, such as chromatin remodeling, transcriptional regulation, cell proliferation, and survival. ProTα has beneficial actions against ischemia-induced necrosis and apoptosis in the brain and retina. However, characterizing the physiological roles of endogenous ProTα in the brain without stress remains elusive. Here, we generated ProTα-deficiency mice to explore whether endogenous ProTα is involved in normal brain functions. We successfully generated heterozygous ProTα knockout (ProTα+/- ) mice, while all homozygous ProTα knockout (ProTα-/- ) offspring died at early embryonic stage, suggesting that ProTα has crucial roles in embryonic development. In the evaluation of different behavioral tests, ProTα+/- mice exhibited hypolocomotor activity in the open-field test and enhanced anxiety-like behaviors in the light/dark transition test and the novelty induced hypophagia test. ProTα+/- mice also showed impaired learning and memory in the step-through passive avoidance test and the KUROBOX test. Depression-like behaviors in ProTα+/- mice in the forced swim and tail suspension tests were comparable with that of wild-type mice. Furthermore, adult hippocampal neurogenesis was significantly decreased in ProTα+/- mice. ProTα+/- mice showed an impaired long-term potentiation induction in the evaluation of electrophysiological recordings from acute hippocampal slices. Microarray analysis revealed that the candidate genes related to anxiety, learning/memory-functions, and neurogenesis were down-regulated in ProTα+/- mice. Thus, this study suggests that ProTα has crucial physiological roles in the robustness of brain.

Keywords: LTP; adult neurogenesis; anxiety; learning and memory; prothymosin alpha.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Anxiety / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / genetics
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Protein Precursors / deficiency*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Thymosin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Thymosin / deficiency
  • Thymosin / genetics


  • Protein Precursors
  • prothymosin alpha
  • Thymosin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/NM_001253809
  • GENBANK/NM_001252074
  • GENBANK/NM_016780
  • GENBANK/NM_030699
  • GENBANK/NM_007864
  • GENBANK/NM_010066
  • GENBANK/NM_010897