POU6f1 Mediates Neuropeptide-Dependent Plasticity in the Adult Brain

J Neurosci. 2018 Feb 7;38(6):1443-1461. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1641-17.2017. Epub 2018 Jan 5.


The mouse olfactory bulb (OB) features continued, activity-dependent integration of adult-born neurons, providing a robust model with which to examine mechanisms of plasticity in the adult brain. We previously reported that local OB interneurons secrete the neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in an activity-dependent manner onto adult-born granule neurons and that local CRH signaling promotes expression of synaptic machinery in the bulb. This effect is mediated via activation of the CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1), which is developmentally regulated during adult-born neuron maturation. CRHR1 is a GS-protein-coupled receptor that activates CREB-dependent transcription in the presence of CRH. Therefore, we hypothesized that locally secreted CRH activates CRHR1 to initiate circuit plasticity programs. To identify such programs, we profiled gene expression changes associated with CRHR1 activity in adult-born neurons of the OB. Here, we show that CRHR1 activity influences expression of the brain-specific Homeobox-containing transcription factor POU Class 6 Homeobox 1 (POU6f1). To elucidate the contributions of POU6f1 toward activity-dependent circuit remodeling, we targeted CRHR1+ neurons in male and female mice for cell-type-specific manipulation of POU6f1 expression. Whereas loss of POU6f1 in CRHR1+ neurons resulted in reduced dendritic complexity and decreased synaptic connectivity, overexpression of POU6f1 in CRHR1+ neurons promoted dendritic outgrowth and branching and influenced synaptic function. Together, these findings suggest that the transcriptional program directed by POU6f1 downstream of local CRH signaling in adult-born neurons influences circuit dynamics in response to activity-dependent peptide signaling in the adult brain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Elucidating mechanisms of plasticity in the adult brain is helpful for devising strategies to understand and treat neurodegeneration. Circuit plasticity in the adult mouse olfactory bulb is exemplified by both continued cell integration and synaptogenesis. We previously reported that these processes are influenced by local neuropeptide signaling in an activity-dependent manner. Here, we show that local corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) signaling induces dynamic gene expression changes in CRH receptor expressing adult-born neurons, including altered expression of the transcription factor POU6f1 We further show that POU6f1 is necessary for proper dendrite specification and patterning, as well as synapse development and function in adult-born neurons. Together, these findings reveal a novel mechanism by which peptide signaling modulates adult brain circuit plasticity.

Keywords: CRH; adult-born neurons; development; neuropeptides; olfactory; synapse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / genetics
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Smell / physiology


  • Neuropeptides
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • Pou5f1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • CRF receptor type 1
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone