Perhaps the most devastating decline with age is the loss of memory. Therefore, identifying mechanisms to restore memory function with age is critical. Using C. elegans associative learning and memory assays, we identified a gain-of-function G αq signaling pathway mutant that forms a long-term (cAMP response element binding protein [CREB]-dependent) memory following one conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) pairing, which usually requires seven CS-US pairings. Increased CREB activity in AIM interneurons reduces the threshold for memory consolidation through transcription of a set of previously identified “long-term memory” genes. Enhanced G αq signaling in the AWC sensory neuron is both necessary and sufficient for improved memory and increased AIM CREB activity, and activation of G αq specifically in aged animals rescues the ability to form memory. Activation of G αq in AWC sensory neurons non-cell autonomously induces consolidation after one CS-US pairing, enabling both cognitive function maintenance with age and restoration of memory function in animals with impaired memory performance without decreased longevity. Arey et al. have found that activating the G αq signaling pathway in sensory neurons enhances memory in young animals, utilizing the canonical CREB pathway. This pathway also slows age-related memory loss and reverses age-related memory impairment.
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