Chronic stress induces persistent depressive behaviors. Stress-induced transcriptional alteration over the homeostatic range in stress hormone–sensitive brain regions is believed to underlie long-lasting depressive behaviors. However, the detailed mechanisms by which chronic stress causes those adaptive changes are not clearly understood. In the present study, we investigated whether epigenetic changes regulate stress-induced depressive behaviors. We found that chronic stress in mice downregulates the epigenetic factors HDAC2 and SUV39H1 in the hippocampus. A series of follow-up analyses including ChIP assay and siRNA-mediated functional analyses reveal that glucocorticoids released by stress cumulatively increase Mkp-1 expression in the hippocampus, and increased Mkp-1 then debilitates p-CREB and PPARγ, which in turn suppress the epigenetic factors HDAC2 and SUV39H1. Furthermore, HDAC2 and SUV39H1 normally suppress the transcription of the Mkp-1, and therefore the reduced expression of HDAC2 and SUV39H1 increases Mkp-1 expression. Accordingly, repeated stress progressively strengthens a vicious cycle of the Mkp-1 signaling cascade that facilitates depressive behaviors. These results suggest that the hippocampal stress adaptation system comprising HDAC2/SUV39H1-regulated Mkp-1 signaling network determines the vulnerability to chronic stress and the maintenance of depressive behaviors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (2018R1A2B2001535) from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea.
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- Epigenetic factors
- Stress adaptation