[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major goal of biomedical research is the identification of molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie memory storage. Here we report a previously unknown signaling pathway that is necessary for the conversion from short- to long-term memory. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2), which contains the regulatory protein Rictor (rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR), was discovered only recently and little is known about its function. We found that conditional deletion of Rictor in the postnatal murine forebrain greatly reduced mTORC2 activity and selectively impaired both long-term memory (LTM) and the late phase of hippocampal long-term potentiation (L-LTP). We also found a comparable impairment of LTM in dTORC2-deficient flies, highlighting the evolutionary conservation of this pathway. Actin polymerization was reduced in the hippocampus of mTORC2-deficient mice and its restoration rescued both L-LTP and LTM. Moreover, a compound that promoted mTORC2 activity converted early LTP into late LTP and enhanced LTM. Thus, mTORC2 could be a therapeutic target for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) was originally identified as a sensor of virus infection, but its function in the brain remains unknown. Here, we report that the lack of PKR enhances learning and memory in several behavioral tasks while increasing network excitability. In addition, loss of PKR increases the late phase of long-lasting synaptic potentiation (L-LTP) in hippocampal slices. These effects are caused by an interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-mediated selective reduction in GABAergic synaptic action. Together, our results reveal that PKR finely tunes the network activity that must be maintained while storing a given episode during learning. Because PKR activity is altered in several neurological disorders, this kinase presents a promising new target for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction. As a first step in this direction, we show that a selective PKR inhibitor replicates the Pkr(-/-) phenotype in WT mice, enhancing long-term memory storage and L-LTP.