Cingulate Overexpression of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Phosphatase-1 as a Key Factor for Depression
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F Barthas, M Humo, R Gilsbach, E Waltisperger, M. Karatas, S. Leman, L. Hein, C. Belzung, A. Boutillier, M. Barrot, I. Yalcin

University of Strasbourg, National Centre for Scientific Research, Institute of Cellular and Integrative Neuroscience, Strasbourg

Biological Psychiatry


Depression is frequently associated with chronic pain or chronic stress. Among cortical areas, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC, areas 24a and 24b) appears to be important for mood disorders and constitutes a neuroanatomical substrate for investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms. The current work aimed at identifying ACC molecular factors subserving depression.


Anxiodepressive-like behaviors in C57BL/6J male mice were induced by neuropathic pain, unpredictable chronic mild stress, and optogenetic ACC stimulation and were evaluated using novelty suppressed feeding, splash, and forced swim tests. ACC molecular changes in chronic pain-induced depression were uncovered through whole-genome expression analysis. Further mechanistic insights were provided by chromatin immunoprecipitation, Western blot, and immunostaining. The causal link between molecular changes and depression was studied using knockout, pharmacological antagonism, and local viral-mediated gene knockdown.


Under chronic pain-induced depression, gene expression changes in the ACC highlighted the overexpression of a regulator of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1). This upregulation is associated with the presence of transcriptionally active chromatin marks (acetylation) at its proximal promoter region as well as increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-mediated transcriptional activity and phosphorylation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element binding protein and activating transcription factor. MKP-1 overexpression is also observed with unpredictable chronic mild stress and repeated ACC optogenetic stimulation and is reversed by fluoxetine. A knockout, an antagonist, or a local silencing of MKP-1 attenuates depressive-like behaviors, pointing to an important role of this phosphatase in depression.


These data point to ACC MKP-1 as a key factor in the pathophysiology of depression and a potential target for treatment development.

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