Inducible gene expression plays a central role in neuronal plasticity, learning, and memory, and dysfunction of the underlying molecular events can lead to severe neuronal disorders. In addition to coding transcripts (mRNAs), non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) appear to play a role in these processes. For instance, the CREB-regulated miRNA miR132 has been shown to affect neuronal structure in an activity-dependent manner, yet the details of its physiological effects and the behavioral consequences in vivo remain unclear. To examine these questions, we employed a transgenic mouse strain that expresses miR132 in forebrain neurons. Morphometric analysis of hippocampal neurons revealed that transgenic miR132 triggers a marked increase in dendritic spine density. Additionally, miR132 transgenic mice exhibited a decrease in the expression of MeCP2, a protein implicated in Rett Syndrome and other disorders of mental retardation. Consistent with these findings, miR132 transgenic mice displayed significant deficits in novel object recognition. Together, these data support a role for miR132 as a regulator of neuronal structure and function, and raise the possibility that dysregulation of miR132 could contribute to an array of cognitive disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)