Social interactions are essential to our mental health, and a deficit in social interactions is a hallmark characteristic of numerous brain disorders. Various subregions within the medial temporal lobe have been implicated in social memory, but the underlying mechanisms that tune these neural circuits remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that optical activation of excitatory entorhinal cortical perforant projections to the dentate gyrus (EC-DG) is necessary and sufficient for social memory retrieval. We further show that inducible disruption of p21-activated kinase (PAK) signaling, a key pathway important for cytoskeletal reorganization, in the EC-DG circuit leads to impairments in synaptic function and social recognition memory, and, importantly, optogenetic activation of the EC-DG terminals reverses the social memory deficits in the transgenic mice. These results provide compelling evidence that activation of the EC-DG pathway underlies social recognition memory recall and that PAK signaling may play a critical role in modulating this process.
Keywords: brain disorder; dentate gyrus; entorhinal cortex; optogenetics; p21-activated kinase; social recognition memory; synaptic transmission; tetracycline inducible system.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.