FABP3 in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex Modulates the Methylation Status of the Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase67 Promoter Region

J Neurosci. 2018 Dec 5;38(49):10411-10423. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1285-18.2018. Epub 2018 Oct 19.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for brain development and function. Increasing evidence has shown that an imbalance of PUFAs is associated with various human psychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. Fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs), cellular chaperones of PUFAs, are involved in PUFA intracellular trafficking, signal transduction, and gene transcription. In this study, we show that FABP3 is strongly expressed in the GABAergic inhibitory interneurons of the male mouse anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is a component of the limbic cortex and is important for the coordination of cognitive and emotional behaviors. Interestingly, Fabp3 KO male mice show an increase in the expression of the gene encoding the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 (Gad67) in the ACC. In the ACC of Fabp3 KO mice, Gad67 promoter methylation and the binding of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) to the Gad67 promoter are significantly decreased compared with those in WT mice. The abnormal cognitive and emotional behaviors of Fabp3 KO mice are restored by methionine administration. Notably, methionine administration normalizes Gad67 promoter methylation and its mRNA expression in the ACC of Fabp3 KO mice. These findings demonstrate that FABP3 is involved in the control of DNA methylation of the Gad67 promoter and activation of GABAergic neurons in the ACC, thus suggesting the importance of PUFA homeostasis in the ACC for cognitive and emotional behaviors.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The ACC is important for emotional and cognitive processing. However, the mechanisms underlying its involvement in the control of behavioral responses are largely unknown. We show the following new observations: (1) FABP3, a PUFA cellular chaperone, is exclusively expressed in GABAergic interneurons in the ACC; (2) an increase in Gad67 expression is detected in the ACC of Fabp3 KO mice; (3) the Gad67 promoter is hypomethylated and the binding of transcriptional repressor complexes is decreased in the ACC of Fabp3 KO mice; and (4) elevated Gad67 expression and abnormal behaviors seen in Fabp3 KO mice are mostly recovered by methionine treatment. These suggest that FABP3 regulates GABA synthesis through transcriptional regulation of Gad67 in the ACC.

Keywords: ACC; FABP3; GABA; GAD67; PUFA; parvalbumin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Fatty Acid Binding Protein 3 / biosynthesis*
  • Fatty Acid Binding Protein 3 / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology*


  • Fabp3 protein, mouse
  • Fatty Acid Binding Protein 3
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1