Epigenetic modifications have become an emerging interface that links extrinsic signals to alterations of gene expression that determine cell identity and function. However, direct signaling that regulates epigenetic modifications is unknown. Our previous work demonstrated that phosphorylation of CBP at Ser 436 by atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) regulates age-dependent hippocampal neurogenesis and memory. p300, a close family member of CBP, lacks the aPKC-mediated phosphorylation found in CBP. Here, we use a phosphorylation-competent p300 (G442S) knock-in (KI) mouse model that ectopically expresses p300 phosphorylation in a homologous site to CBP Ser436, and assess its roles in modulating hippocampal neurogenesis, CREB binding ability, and fear memory. Young adult (3 months) p300G422S-KI mice exhibit enhanced hippocampal neurogenesis due to increased cell survival of newly-generated neurons, without alterations in CREB binding and contextual fear memory. On the other hand, mature adult (6 months) p300G422S-KI mice display reduced CREB binding, associated with impaired contextual fear memory without alterations in hippocampal neurogenesis. Additionally, we show that repulsive interaction between pS133-CREB and pS422-p300G422S may contribute to the reduced CREB binding to p300G422S. Together, these data suggest that a single phosphorylation change in p300 has the capability to modulate hippocampal neurogenesis, CREB binding, and associative fear memory.
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