Translational control depends on phosphorylation of eIF2α by PKR-like ER kinase (PERK). To examine the role of PERK in cognitive function, we selectively disrupted PERK expression in the adult mouse forebrain. In the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of PERK-deficient mice, eIF2α phosphorylation and ATF4 expression were diminished and were associated with enhanced behavioral perseveration, decreased prepulse inhibition, reduced fear extinction, and impaired behavioral flexibility. Treatment with the glycine transporter inhibitor SSR504734 normalized eIF2α phosphorylation, ATF4 expression, and behavioral flexibility in PERK-deficient mice. Moreover, the expression levels of PERK and ATF4 were reduced in the frontal cortex of human patients with schizophrenia. Together, our findings reveal that PERK plays a critical role in information processing and cognitive function and that modulation of eIF2α phosphorylation and ATF4 expression may represent an effective strategy for treating behavioral inflexibility associated with several neurological disorders such as schizophrenia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)