Time-place learning and memory persist in mice lacking functional Per1 and Per2 clock genes.


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With time-place learning, animals link a stimulus with the location and the time of day. This ability may optimize resource localization and predator avoidance in daily changing environments. Time-place learning is a suitable task to study the interaction of the circadian system and memory. Previously, we showed that time-place learning in mice depends on the circadian system and Cry1 and/or Cry2 clock genes. We questioned whether time-place learning is Cry specific or also depends on other core molecular clock genes. Here, we show that Per1/Per2 double mutant mice, despite their arrhythmic phenotype, acquire time-place learning similar to wild-type mice. As well as an established role in circadian rhythms, Per genes have also been implicated in the formation and storage of memory. We found no deficiencies in short-term spatial working memory in Per mutant mice compared to wild-type mice. Moreover, both Per mutant and wild-type mice showed similar long-term memory for contextual features of a paradigm (a mild foot shock), measured in trained mice after a 2-month nontesting interval. In contrast, time-place associations were lost in both wild-type and mutant mice after these 2 months, suggesting a lack of maintained long-term memory storage for this type of information. Taken together, Cry-dependent time-place learning does not require Per genes, and Per mutant mice showed no PER-specific short-term or long-term memory deficiencies. These results limit the functional role of Per clock genes in the circadian regulation of time-place learning and memory.
circadian,time-place learning,memory,Period,Cryptochrome,mice
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