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Rapid and selective induction of BDNF expression in the hippocampus during contextual learning


The hippocampus is required for many forms of long-term memory in both humans and animals1, and formation of long-lasting memories requires the synthesis of new proteins2. Furthermore, the long-term potentiation (LTP) of hippocampal synapses, a widely studied model of memory, also depends on both de novo gene transcription and protein synthesis3 and results in the activation of transcription from promotors containing the cAMP response element (CRE)4. Expression of several genes is induced during the establishment of LTP; these include the immediate-early genes (IEGs) BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), zif268 and C/EBPβ (CCAAT-enhancer binding protein β), all of which contain CRE sites within their promotor regions3,5. However, these genes induced by LTP are not known to be rapidly induced following learning in a natural setting. Here we demonstrate rapid and selective induction of BDNF expression during hippocampus-dependent contextual learning.

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Figure 1: Contextual conditioning produces selective increases in the expression of BDNF in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells.
Figure 2: Expression of BDNF and zif268 in the amygdala following contextual conditioning.


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This research was supported by an MRC Programme Grant G9537855 and an MRC Co-operative in Brain, Behaviour and Neuropsychiatry. J.H. was supported by Trinity College, Cambridge under an MD/Ph.D. program. We thank Caroline Morrison for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Kerrie L. Thomas.

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Hall, J., Thomas, K. & Everitt, B. Rapid and selective induction of BDNF expression in the hippocampus during contextual learning. Nat Neurosci 3, 533–535 (2000).

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