Memory consolidation is mediated by new protein synthesis. However, the transcriptional pathways induced in neurons by behavioral training that activate gene responses have yet to be fully delineated. We have previously shown that nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is activated in the amygdala after fear conditioning. Here we report that fear conditioning resulted in an increase in histone acetyl-transferase activity, the association between NF-κB p65 and CBP, and the increase in acetylated p65. Pretreating animals with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors prolonged the nuclear expression of acetyl-p65 and increased its DNA binding activity. Consistent with these results, HDAC inhibitors enhanced long-term but not short-term fear memory, and this effect was attenuated by κB decoy DNA, whereas scrambled DNA was without effect. This study provides evidence that HDAC-mediated deacetylation functions as an intranuclear molecular switch culminating in the termination of NF-κB transcriptional response that is involved in the formation of fear memory.
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