Projects per year
Background: Although glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) in the hippocampus play a vital role in the regulation of physiological and behavioural responses to stress, the regulation of receptor expression remains unclear. This work investigates the molecular mechanisms underpinning stress-induced changes in hippocampal GR mRNA levels in vivo.
Methods: Male Wistar rats were killed either under baseline conditions or after forced swim stress (FSS; 15 min in 25°C water). Rat hippocampi were micro-dissected (for mRNA, microRNA, and DNA methylation analysis) or frozen whole (for chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). In an additional experiment, rats were pre-treated with RU486 (a GR antagonist) or vehicle.
Results: FSS evoked a dentate gyrus-specific reduction in GR mRNA levels. This was associated with increased DNMT3a protein association with a discreet region of the Nr3C1 (GR gene) promoter, shown here to undergo increased DNA methylation after FSS. FSS also caused a time-dependent increase in the expression of miR-124a, a microRNA known to reduce GR mRNA expression, which was inversely correlated with a reduction in GR mRNA levels at 30 min post-FSS. FSS did not affect GR binding to a putative negative glucocorticoid response element (GRE) within the Nr3c1 gene.
Conclusions: Acute stress results in decreased GR mRNA expression specifically in the dentate gyrus. Our results indicate that a complex interplay of multiple molecular mechanisms including increased DNA methylation of discrete CpG residues within the Nr3c1 gene, most likely facilitated by DNMT3a, and increased expression of miR-124a could be responsible for these changes.
- Glucocorticoid receptor
- DNA methylation
- forced swimming
- chromatin immunoprecipitation
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- 2 Finished
1/10/13 → 1/10/16
- Bristol Medical School (THS) - Professor of Neuroscience
- Neuro-Epigenetics of Stress and Cognition Research Group
- Bristol Neuroscience
Person: Academic , Member, Group lead