Yi Zhong's group published ‘Social experiences switch states of memory engrams through regulating hippocampal Rac1 activity’ in PNAS



In pathological or artificial conditions, memory can be formed as silenced engrams that are unavailable for retrieval by presenting conditioned stimuli but can be artificially switched into the latent state so that natural recall is allowed. However, it remains unclear whether such different states of engrams bear any physiological significance and can be switched through physiological mechanisms. Here, we show that an acute social reward experience switches the silent memory engram into the latent state. Conversely, an acute social stress causes transient forgetting via turning a latent memory engram into a silent state. Such emotion-driven bidirectional switching between latent and silent states of engrams is mediated through regulation of Rac1 activity–dependent reversible forgetting in the hippocampus, as stress-activated Rac1 suppresses retrieval, while reward recovers silenced memory under amnesia by inhibiting Rac1. Thus, data presented reveal hippocampal Rac1 activity as the basis for emotion-mediated switching between latent and silent engrams to achieve emotion-driven behavioral flexibility.



Paper Link:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116844119