U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2011) pp. 1-8; doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.09.016


The role of cyclic adenosine monophosphate/protein kinase A (cAMP/PKA) signaling in the molecular pathways involved in fear and memory is well established. Prior studies in our lab reported that transgenic mice with an inactivating mutation in Prkar1a gene (codes for the 1-alpha regulatory subunit (R1α) of PKA) exhibited behavioral abnormalities including anxiety and depression. In the present study, we examined the role of altered PKA signaling on anxiety-like behaviors in Prkar1a+/- mice compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. The elevated plus maze (EPM) and marble bury (MB) tests were used to assess anxiety-like behavior. The hotplate test was performed to evaluate analgesia. We further examined the impact of the Prkar1a inactivating mutation on PKA activity in specific nuclei of the brain associated with anxiety-like behavior. Results for the MB test showed a genotype effect, with increased anxiety-like behavior in Prkar1a+/- mice, compared to WT littermates ( p < 0.05). MANOVA analysis showed a significant genotype difference in anxiety- like behavior in the EPM between WT and Prkar1a+/- mice on combined dependent variables (open arm time and open to total time ratio; p < 0.05). Results of hotplate testing showed no genotype effect however; the expected sex difference was noted. Analysis of PKA activity showed the loss of one Prkar1a allele led to an increase in basal and cAMP-stimulated kinase activity in both the basolateral and central amygdala. These results suggest that the alteration in PKA signaling in Prkar1a+/- mice is not a ubiquitous effect; and supports the importance of cAMP/PKA pathway in neurobiological processes involved in anxiety and fear sensitization.