Dynamic regulation of Z-DNA in the mouse prefrontal cortex by the RNA-editing enzyme Adar1 is required for fear extinction
© Laguna Design/Getty
The shape of DNA in the brain affects how well mice can ‘unlearn’ previously acquired fear memories, a finding that could lead to new treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric conditions.
A team led by scientists at the University of Queensland showed that, during fear learning, anti-clockwise helices of DNA form in the mouse prefrontal cortex — the short-term memory centre of the brain.
During fear extinguishing, when mice were exposed to safe stimuli in similar environments, an enzyme known as ADAR1 latched onto the reverse-twisted DNA and converted the helix shape back to its normal, clockwise spiral.
Without ADAR1, the DNA got stuck in its backwards configuration and mice were unable to form non-fearful memories. The results thus provide a link between DNA flexibility and cognitive flexibility.
- Nature Neuroscience 23, 718–729 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0627-5
|The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia||0.87|
|Cancer and RNA Biology Unit, SVI, Australia||0.07|
|Australian Catholic University (ACU), Australia||0.07|