Linking muscarinic receptor activation to UPS-mediated object memory destabilization: Implications for long-term memory modification and storage

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Consolidated memories can become destabilized during reactivation, resulting in a transient state of instability, a process that has been hypothesized to underlie long-term memory updating. Consistent with this notion, relatively remote memories, which are resistant to standard destabilization procedures, are reliably destabilized when novel information (i.e., the opportunity for memory updating) is present during reactivation. We have also shown that cholinergic muscarinic receptor (mAChR) activation can similarly destabilize consolidated object memories. Synaptic protein degradation via the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) has previously been linked to destabilization of fear and object-location memories. Given the role of calcium in regulating proteasome activity, we hypothesized that activation of cholinergic receptors, specifically M1 mAChRs, stimulates the UPS via inositol triphosphate receptor (IP3R)-mediated release of intracellular calcium stores to facilitate object memory destabilization. We present converging evidence for this hypothesis, which we tested using a modified spontaneous object recognition task for rats and microinfusions into perirhinal cortex (PRh), a brain region strongly implicated in object memory. We extend our previous findings by demonstrating that M1 mAChRs are necessary for novelty-induced object memory destabilization. We also show that proteasome inhibition or IP3R antagonism in PRh prevents object memory destabilization induced by novelty or M1 mAChR stimulation. These results establish an intracellular pathway linking M1 receptors, IP3Rs, and UPS activity to object memory destabilization and suggest a previously unacknowledged role for cholinergic signaling in long-term memory modification and storage.

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