Regulation of anxiety-like behavior and Crhr1 expression in the basolateral amygdala by LMO3.Psychoneuroendocrinology 2018; 92:13-20P
The LIM domain only protein LMO3 is a transcriptional regulator that has been shown to regulate several behavioral responses to alcohol. Specifically, Lmo3 null (Lmo3Z) mice consume more ethanol in a binge-drinking test and show enhanced ethanol-induced sedation. Due to the high comorbidity of alcohol use and anxiety, we investigated anxiety-like behavior in Lmo3Z mice. Lmo3Z mice spent more time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze compared with their wild-type littermates, but the effect was confounded by reduced locomotor activity. To verify the anxiety phenotype in the Lmo3Z mice, we tested them for novelty-induced hypophagia and found that they also showed reduced anxiety in this test. We next explored the mechanism by which LMO3 might regulate anxiety by measuring mRNA and protein levels of corticotropin releasing factor (encoded by the Crh gene) and its receptor type 1 (Crhr1) in Lmo3Z mice. Reduced Crhr1 mRNA and protein was evident in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) of Lmo3Z mice. To examine whether Lmo3 in the amygdala is important for anxiety-like behavior, we locally reduced Lmo3 expression in the BLA of wild type mice using a lentiviral vector expressing a short hairpin RNA targeting the Lmo3 transcript. Mice with Lmo3 knockdown in the BLA exhibited decreased anxiety-like behavior relative to control mice. These results suggest that Lmo3 promotes anxiety-like behavior specifically in the BLA, possibly by altering Crhr1 expression. This study is the first to support a role for Lmo3 in anxiety-like behavior.