E4BP4 Coordinates Circadian Control of Cognition in Delirium

Adv Sci (Weinh). 2022 Aug;9(23):e2200559. doi: 10.1002/advs.202200559. Epub 2022 Jun 17.


Improved understanding of the etiologies of delirium, a common and severe neuropsychiatric syndrome, would facilitate the disease prevention and treatment. Here, the authors invesitgate the role of circadian rhythms in the pathogenesis of delirium. They observe perturbance of circadian rhythms in mouse models of delirium and disrupted clock gene expression in patients with delirium. In turn, physiological and genetic circadian disruptions sensitize mice to delirium with aggravated cognitive impairment. Likewise, global deletion of E4bp4 (E4 promoter-binding protein), a clock gene markedly altered in delirium conditions, results in exacerbated delirium-associated cognitive decline. Cognitive decline in delirium models is attributed to microglial activation and impaired long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. Single-cell RNA-sequencing reveals microglia as the regulatory target of E4bp4. E4bp4 restrains microglial activation via inhibiting the ERK1/2 signaling pathway. Supporting this, mice lacking in microglial E4bp4 are delirious prone, whereas mice with E4bp4 specifically deleted in hippocampal CA1 neurons have a normal phenotype. Mechanistically, E4bp4 inhibits ERK1/2 signaling by trans-repressing Mapk1/3 (genes encoding ERK1/2) via direct binding to a D-box element in the promoter region. These findings define a causal role of clock dysfunction in delirium development and indicate E4bp4 as a regulator of cognition at the crosstalk between circadian clock and delirium.

Keywords: E4BP4; ERK1/2; circadian rhythm; delirium; microglia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Circadian Clocks*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Cognition
  • Delirium*
  • Mice


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors