Hippocampal overexpression of FK506-binding protein 12.6/1b (FKBP1b), a negative regulator of ryanodine receptor Ca2+ release, reverses aging-induced memory impairment and neuronal Ca2+ dysregulation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that FKBP1b also can protect downstream transcriptional networks from aging-induced dysregulation. We gave hippocampal microinjections of FKBP1b-expressing viral vector to male rats at either 13 months of age (long-term, LT) or 19 months of age (short-term, ST) and tested memory performance in the Morris water maze at 21 months of age. Aged rats treated ST or LT with FKBP1b substantially outperformed age-matched vector controls and performed similarly to each other and young controls (YCs). Transcriptional profiling in the same animals identified 2342 genes with hippocampal expression that was upregulated/downregulated in aged controls (ACs) compared with YCs (the aging effect). Of these aging-dependent genes, 876 (37%) also showed altered expression in aged FKBP1b-treated rats compared with ACs, with FKBP1b restoring expression of essentially all such genes (872/876, 99.5%) in the direction opposite the aging effect and closer to levels in YCs. This inverse relationship between the aging and FKBP1b effects suggests that the aging effects arise from FKBP1b deficiency. Functional category analysis revealed that genes downregulated with aging and restored by FKBP1b were associated predominantly with diverse brain structure categories, including cytoskeleton, membrane channels, and extracellular region. Conversely, genes upregulated with aging but not restored by FKBP1b associated primarily with glial–neuroinflammatory, ribosomal, and lysosomal categories. Immunohistochemistry confirmed aging-induced rarefaction and FKBP1b-mediated restoration of neuronal microtubular structure. Therefore, a previously unrecognized genomic network modulating diverse brain structural processes is dysregulated by aging and restored by FKBP1b overexpression.

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Published in The Journal of Neuroscience, v. 38, issue 4, p. 1030-1041.

This article is licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (Grants AG004542, AG033649, AG052050, and AG037868) and McAlpine Foundation for Neuroscience Research.