The rac-GEF tiam1 promotes dendrite and synapse stabilization of dentate granule cells and restricts hippocampal-dependent memory functions

Jinxuan Cheng, Federico Scala, Francisco A. Blanco, Sanyong Niu, Karen Firozi, Laura Keehan, Shalaka Mulherkar, Emmanouil Froudarakis, Lingyong Li, Joseph G. Duman, Xiaolong Jiang, Kimberley F. Tolias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dentate gyrus (DG) controls information flow into the hippocampus and is critical for learning, memory, pattern separation, and spatial coding, while DG dysfunction is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite its importance, the molecular mechanisms regulating DG neural circuit assembly and function remain unclear. Here, we identify the Rac-GEF Tiam1 as an important regulator of DG development and associated memory processes. In the hippocampus, Tiam1 is predominantly expressed in the DG throughout life. Global deletion of Tiam1 in male mice results in DG granule cells with simplified dendritic arbors, reduced dendritic spine density, and diminished excitatory synaptic transmission. Notably, DG granule cell dendrites and synapses develop normally in Tiam1 KO mice, resembling WT mice at postnatal day 21 (P21), but fail to stabilize, leading to dendrite and synapse loss by P42. These results indicate that Tiam1 promotes DG granule cell dendrite and synapse stabilization late in development. Tiam1 loss also increases the survival, but not the production, of adult-born DG granule cells, possibly because of greater circuit integration as a result of decreased competition with mature granule cells for synaptic inputs. Strikingly, both male and female mice lacking Tiam1 exhibit enhanced contextual fear memory and context discrimination. Together, these results suggest that Tiam1 is a key regulator of DG granule cell stabilization and function within hippocampal circuits. Moreover, based on the enhanced memory phenotype of Tiam1 KO mice, Tiam1 may be a potential target for the treatment of disorders involving memory impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1206
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume41
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021

Keywords

  • Adult neurogenesis
  • Dendrites
  • Dentate gyrus
  • Learning and memory
  • Rho GTPase
  • Synapse development

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