Nuclear receptor binding factor 2 (NRBF2) is required for learning and memory

Xiaosen Ouyang, Israr Ahmad, Michelle S. Johnson, Matthew Redmann, Jason Craver, Willayat Y. Wani, Gloria A. Benavides, Balu Chacko, Peng Li, Martin Young, Anil G. Jegga, Victor Darley-Usmar, Jianhua Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms which underlie defects in learning and memory are a major area of focus with the increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the aging population. The complex genetically-controlled, age-, and environmentally-dependent onset and progression of the cognitive deficits and neuronal pathology call for better understanding of the fundamental biology of the nervous system function. In this study, we focus on nuclear receptor binding factor-2 (NRBF2) which modulates the transcriptional activities of retinoic acid receptor α and retinoid X receptor α, and the autophagic activities of the BECN1–VPS34 complex. Since both transcriptional regulation and autophagic function are important in supporting neuronal function, we hypothesized that NRBF2 deficiency may lead to cognitive deficits. To test this, we developed a new mouse model with nervous system-specific knockout of Nrbf2. In a series of behavioral assessment, we demonstrate that NRBF2 knockout in the nervous system results in profound learning and memory deficits. Interestingly, we did not find deficits in autophagic flux in primary neurons and the autophagy deficits were minimal in the brain. In contrast, RNAseq analyses have identified altered expression of genes that have been shown to impact neuronal function. The observation that NRBF2 is involved in learning and memory suggests a new mechanism regulating cognition involving the role of this protein in regulating networks related to the function of retinoic acid receptors, protein folding, and quality control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1251
Number of pages14
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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