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Keywords:

  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor;
  • gene expression;
  • hippocampus;
  • synaptic plasticity

Abstract

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a critical regulator of transcription-dependent adaptive neuronal responses, such as long-term potentiation (LTP). Brief infusion of BDNF into the dentate gyrus of adult anesthetized rats triggers stable LTP at medial perforant path-granule synapses that is transcription-dependent and requires induction of the immediate early gene Arc. Rather than acting alone, Arc is likely to be part of a larger BDNF-induced transcriptional program. Here, we used cDNA microarray expression profiling to search for genes co-upregulated with Arc 3 h after BDNF-LTP induction. Of nine cDNAs encoding for known genes and up-regulated more than four-fold, we selected five genes, Narp, neuritin, ADP-ribosylation factor-like protein-4 (ARL4L), TGF-β-induced immediate early gene-1 (TIEG1) and CARP, for further validation. Real-time PCR confirmed robust up-regulation of these genes in an independent set of BDNF-LTP experiments, whereas infusion of the control protein cytochrome C had no effect. In situ hybridization histochemistry further revealed up-regulation of all five genes in somata of post-synaptic granule cells following both BDNF-LTP and high-frequency stimulation-induced LTP. While Arc synthesis is critical for local actin polymerization and stable LTP formation, several of the co-upregulated genes have known functions in excitatory synaptogenesis, axon guidance and glutamate receptor clustering. These results provide novel insight into gene expression responses underlying BDNF-induced synaptic consolidation in the adult brain in vivo.