Although epigenetic mechanisms of gene expression regulation have recently been implicated in memory consolidation and persistence, the role of nucleosome-remodeling is largely unexplored. Recent studies show that the functional loss of BAF53b, a postmitotic neuron-specific subunit of the BAF nucleosome-remodeling complex, results in the deficit of consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memory and cocaine-associated memory in the rodent brain. However, it is unclear whether BAF53b expression is regulated during memory formation and how BAF53b regulates fear memory in the amygdala, a key brain site for fear memory encoding and storage. To address these questions, we used viral vector approaches to either decrease or increase BAF53b function specifically in the lateral amygdala of adult mice in auditory fear conditioning paradigm. Knockdown of Baf53b before training disrupted long-term memory formation with no effect on short-term memory, basal synaptic transmission, and spine structures. We observed in our qPCR analysis that BAF53b was induced in the lateral amygdala neurons at the late consolidation phase after fear conditioning. Moreover, transient BAF53b overexpression led to persistently enhanced memory formation, which was accompanied by increase in thin-type spine density. Together, our results provide the evidence that BAF53b is induced after learning, and show that such increase of BAF53b level facilitates memory consolidation likely by regulating learning-related spine structural plasticity.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Recent works in the rodent brain begin to link nucleosome remodeling-dependent epigenetic mechanism to memory consolidation. Here we show that BAF53b, an epigenetic factor involved in nucleosome remodeling, is induced in the lateral amygdala neurons at the late phase of consolidation after fear conditioning. Using specific gene knockdown or overexpression approaches, we identify the critical role of BAF53b in the lateral amygdala neurons for memory consolidation during long-term memory formation. Our results thus provide an idea about how nucleosome remodeling can be regulated during long-term memory formation and contributes to the permanent storage of associative fear memory in the lateral amygdala, which is relevant to fear and anxiety-related mental disorders.
Keywords: BAF53b; fear conditioning; long-term memory; memory consolidation; nucleosome remodeling; spine structural plasticity.
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