The multitude of molecular pathways underlying memory impairment in neurological disorders and aging-related disorders has been a major hurdle against therapeutic targeting. Over the years, neuronal growth promoting factors, intracellular kinases, and specific transcription factors, particularly cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), have emerged as crucial players of memory storage, and their disruption accompanies many cognitive disabilities. However, a molecular link that can influence these major players and can be a potential recovery target has been elusive. Recent reports suggest that extracellular cues at the synapses might evoke an intracellular signaling cascade and regulate memory function. Herein, we report novel function of an extracellular serine protease, kallikrein 8 (KLK8/Neuropsin) in regulating the expression of microtubule associated dendrite growth marker microtubule-associated protein (MAP2)c, dendrite architecture and protein kinase A (PKA)-CREB signaling. Both knockdown of KLK8 via siRNA transfection in mouse primary hippocampal neurons and via intra-hippocampal administration of KLK8 antisense oligonucleotides in vivo reduced expression of MAP2c, dendrite length, dendrite branching and spine density. The KLK8 mediated MAP2c deficiency in turn inactivated PKA and downstream transcription factor phosphorylated CREB (pCREB), leading to downregulation of memory-linked genes and consequent impaired memory consolidation. These findings revealed a protease associated novel pathway of memory impairment in which KLK8 may act as a "regulator of regulators", suggesting its exploration as an important therapeutic target of memory disorders.
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