Immediate early genes (IEGs) are rapidly activated in response to an environmental stimulus, and most code for transcription factors that mediate processes of synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. EGR3, an immediate early gene transcription factor, is a mediator of biological processes that are disrupted in patients with schizophrenia (SCZ). A microarray experiment conducted by our lab revealed that Egr3 also regulates genes involved in DNA damage response. A recent study revealed that physiological neuronal activity results in the formation of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) in the promoters of IEGs. Additionally, they showed that these DSBs are essential for inducing the expression of IEGs, and failure to repair these DSBs results in the persistent expression of IEGs. We hypothesize that Egr3 plays a role in repairing activity- induced DNA DSBs, and mice lacking Egr3 should have an abnormal accumulation of these DSBs. Before proceeding with that experiment, we conducted a preliminary investigation to determine if electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS) is a reliable method of inducing activity- dependent DNA damage, and to measure this DNA damage in three subregions of the hippocampus: CA1, CA3, and dentate gyrus (DG). We asked the question, are levels of DNA DSBs different between these hippocampal subregions in animals at baseline and following electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS)? To answer this question, we quantified γ-H2AX, a biomarker of DNA DSBs, in the hippocampal subregions of wildtype mice. Due to technical errors and small sample size, we were unable to substantiate our preliminary findings. Despite these shortcomings, our experimental design can be modified in future studies that investigate the role of Egr3 in activity-induced DNA damage repair.
- Assessing the Role of the Transcription Factor EGR3 in Activity-Induced DNA Damage Response