The circadian clock gene Per1 modulates context fear memory formation within the retrosplenial cortex in a sex-specific manner

Mark W. Urban, Chenyu Lo, Kasuni K. Bodinayake, Chad A. Brunswick, Shoko Murakami, Ashley C. Heimann, Janine L. Kwapis

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9 Scopus citations


Context memory formation is a complex process that requires transcription in many subregions of the brain including the dorsal hippocampus and retrosplenial cortex. One critical gene necessary for memory formation is the circadian gene Period1 (Per1), which has been shown to function in the dorsal hippocampus to modulate spatial memory in addition to its well-documented role in regulating the diurnal clock within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). We recently found that alterations in Per1 expression in the dorsal hippocampus can modulate spatial memory formation, with reduced hippocampal Per1 impairing memory and overexpression of Per1 ameliorating age-related impairments in spatial memory. Whether Per1 similarly functions within other memory-relevant brain regions is currently unknown. Here, to test whether Per1 is a general mechanism that modulates memory across the brain, we tested the role of Per1 in the retrosplenial cortex (RSC), a brain region necessary for context memory formation. First, we demonstrate that context fear conditioning drives a transient increase in Per1 mRNA expression within the anterior RSC that peaks 60 m after training. Next, using HSV-CRISPRi-mediated knockdown of Per1, we show that reducing Per1 within the anterior RSC before context fear acquisition impairs memory in both male and female mice. In contrast, overexpressing Per1 with either HSV-CRISPRa or HSV-Per1 before context fear acquisition drives a sex-specific memory impairment; males show impaired context fear memory whereas females are not affected by Per1 overexpression. Finally, as Per1 levels are known to rhythmically oscillate across the day/night cycle, we tested the possibility that Per1 overexpression might have different effects on memory depending on the time of day. In contrast to the impairment in memory we observed during the daytime, Per1 overexpression has no effect on context fear memory during the night in either male or female mice. Together, our results indicate that Per1 modulates memory in the anterior retrosplenial cortex in addition to its documented role in regulating memory within the dorsal hippocampus, although this role may differ between males and females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107535
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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