It is well established that the coordinated regulation of activity-dependent gene expression by the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) family of transcriptional coactivators is crucial for the formation of contextual fear and spatial memory, and for hippocampal synaptic plasticity. However, no studies have examined the role of this epigenetic mechanism within the infralimbic prefrontal cortex (ILPFC), an area of the brain that is essential for the formation and consolidation of fear extinction memory. Here we report that a postextinction training infusion of a combined p300/CBP inhibitor (Lys-CoA-Tat), directly into the ILPFC, enhances fear extinction memory in mice. Our results also demonstrate that the HAT p300 is highly expressed within pyramidal neurons of the ILPFC and that the small-molecule p300-specific inhibitor (C646) infused into the ILPFC immediately after weak extinction training enhances the consolidation of fear extinction memory. C646 infused 6 h after extinction had no effect on fear extinction memory, nor did an immediate postextinction training infusion into the prelimbic prefrontal cortex. Consistent with the behavioral findings, inhibition of p300 activity within the ILPFC facilitated long-term potentiation (LTP) under stimulation conditions that do not evoke long-lasting LTP. These data suggest that one function of p300 activity within the ILPFC is to constrain synaptic plasticity, and that a reduction in the function of this HAT is required for the formation of fear extinction memory.
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