EphrinA4 mimetic peptide targeted to EphA binding site impairs the formation of long-term fear memory in lateral amygdala

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Fear conditioning leads to long-term fear memory formation and is a model for studying fear-related psychopathologies conditions such as phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder. Long-term fear memory formation is believed to involve alterations of synaptic efficacy mediated by changes in synaptic transmission and morphology in lateral amygdala (LA). EphrinA4 and its cognate Eph receptors are intimately involved in regulating neuronal morphogenesis, synaptic transmission and plasticity. To assess possible roles of ephrinA4 in fear memory formation we designed and used a specific inhibitory ephrinA4 mimetic peptide (pep-ephrinA4) targeted to EphA binding site. We show that this peptide, composed of the ephrinA4 binding domain, interacts with EphA4 and inhibits ephrinA4-induced phosphorylation of EphA4. Microinjection of the pep-ephrinA4 into rat LA 30 min before training impaired long- but not short-term fear conditioning memory. Microinjection of a control peptide derived from a nonbinding E helix site of ephrinA4, that does not interact with EphA, had no effect on fear memory formation. Microinjection of pep-ephrinA4 into areas adjacent to the amygdala had no effect on fear memory. Acute systemic administration of pep-ephrinA4 1 h after training also impaired long-term fear conditioning memory formation. These results demonstrate that ephrinA4 binding sites in LA are essential for long-term fear memory formation. Moreover, our research shows that ephrinA4 binding sites may serve as a target for pharmacological treatment of fear and anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere450
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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