Activation of Gαq Signaling Enhances Memory Consolidation and Slows Cognitive Decline

Neuron. 2018 May 2;98(3):562-574.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.03.039. Epub 2018 Apr 12.


Perhaps the most devastating decline with age is the loss of memory. Therefore, identifying mechanisms to restore memory function with age is critical. Using C. elegans associative learning and memory assays, we identified a gain-of-function Gαq signaling pathway mutant that forms a long-term (cAMP response element binding protein [CREB]-dependent) memory following one conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) pairing, which usually requires seven CS-US pairings. Increased CREB activity in AIM interneurons reduces the threshold for memory consolidation through transcription of a set of previously identified "long-term memory" genes. Enhanced Gαq signaling in the AWC sensory neuron is both necessary and sufficient for improved memory and increased AIM CREB activity, and activation of Gαq specifically in aged animals rescues the ability to form memory. Activation of Gαq in AWC sensory neurons non-cell autonomously induces consolidation after one CS-US pairing, enabling both cognitive function maintenance with age and restoration of memory function in animals with impaired memory performance without decreased longevity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / metabolism*
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11