MicroRNA-mediated disruption of dendritogenesis during a critical period of development influences cognitive capacity later in life [Neuroscience]
The prenatal period of cortical development is important for the establishment of neural circuitry and functional connectivity of the brain; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process remain unclear. Here we report that disruption of the actin–cytoskeletal network in the developing mouse prefrontal cortex alters dendritic morphogenesis and synapse formation, leading to enhanced formation of fear-related memory in adulthood. These effects are mediated by a brain-enriched microRNA, miR-9, through its negative regulation of diaphanous homologous protein 1 (Diap1), a key organizer of the actin cytoskeletal assembly. Our findings not only revealed important regulation of dendritogenesis and synaptogenesis during early brain development but also demonstrated a tight link between these early developmental events and cognitive functions later in life.
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