Working memory is a form of short-term memory that involves maintaining and updating task-relevant information toward goal-directed pursuits. Classical models posit persistent activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) as a primary neural correlate, but emerging views suggest additional mechanisms may exist. We screened ∼200 genetically diverse mice on a working memory task and identified a genetic locus on chromosome 5 that contributes to a substantial proportion (17%) of the phenotypic variance. Within the locus, we identified a gene encoding an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor, Gpr12, which is sufficient to drive substantial and bidirectional changes in working memory. Molecular, cellular, and imaging studies revealed that Gpr12 enables high thalamus-PFC synchrony to support memory maintenance and choice accuracy. These findings identify an orphan receptor as a potent modifier of short-term memory and supplement classical PFC-based models with an emerging thalamus-centric framework for the mechanistic understanding of working memory.
Keywords: GPCR; RNA; genetic Variation/genetics; genome/genetics; memory/physiology; messenger/analysis; mice; neural pathways/physiology; outbred; prefrontal cortex/physiology; quantitative trait loci/genetics; thalamus/cytology; thalamus/physiology; transcriptome/genetics.
Published by Elsevier Inc.