HDAC3 is a critical negative regulator of long-term memory formation.
Gene expression is dynamically regulated by chromatin modifications on histone tails, such as acetylation. In general, histone acetylation promotes transcription, whereas histone deacetylation negatively regulates transcription. The interplay between histone acetyltranserases and histone deacetylases (HDACs) is pivotal for the regulation of gene expression required for long-term memory processes. Currently, very little is known about the role of individual HDACs in learning and memory. We examined the role of HDAC3 in long-term memory using a combined genetic and pharmacologic approach. We used HDAC3-FLOX genetically modified mice in combination with adeno-associated virus-expressing Cre recombinase to generate focal homozygous deletions of Hdac3 in area CA1 of the dorsal hippocampus. To complement this approach, we also used a selective inhibitor of HDAC3, RGFP136 [N-(6-(2-amino-4-fluorophenylamino)-6-oxohexyl)-4-methylbenzamide]. Immunohistochemistry showed that focal deletion or intrahippocampal delivery of RGFP136 resulted in increased histone acetylation. Both the focal deletion of HDAC3 as well as HDAC3 inhibition via RGFP136 significantly enhanced long-term memory in a persistent manner. Next we examined expression of genes implicated in long-term memory from dorsal hippocampal punches using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. Expression of nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A, member 2 (Nr4a2) and c-fos was significantly increased in the hippocampus of HDAC3-FLOX mice compared with wild-type controls. Memory enhancements observed in HDAC3-FLOX mice were abolished by intrahippocampal delivery of Nr4a2 small interfering RNA, suggesting a mechanism by which HDAC3 negatively regulates memory formation. Together, these findings demonstrate a critical role for HDAC3 in the molecular mechanisms underlying long-term memory formation.