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Hippocampal knockdown of Piwil1 and Piwil2 enhances contextual fear memory in mice

By Laura J. Leighton, Wei Wei, Vikram Singh Ratnu, Xiang Li, Esmi L Zajaczkowski, Paola A Spadaro, Nitin Khandelwal, Arvind Kumar, Timothy W Bredy

Posted 11 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/298570

The Piwi pathway is a conserved gene regulatory mechanism comprised of Piwi-like proteins and Piwi-interacting RNAs, which modulates gene expression via RNA interference and epigenetic mechanisms. The mammalian Piwi pathway has been defined by its role in transposon control during spermatogenesis, and despite an increasing number of studies demonstrating its expression in the nervous system, relatively little is known about its function in neurons or potential contribution to gene regulation in the brain. We have discovered that all three Piwi-like genes are expressed in several regions of the mouse brain, and that simultaneous knockdown of Piwil1 and Piwil2 in the adult mouse hippocampus enhances contextual fear memory without affecting generalised anxiety. Our results implicate the Piwi pathway in control of plasticity-related gene expression in the adult mammalian brain.

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