Although primary cilia are found on neurons throughout the brain, their physiological function remains elusive. Human ciliopathies are associated with cognition defects, and transgenic mice lacking proteins expressed in primary cilia exhibit defects in learning and memory. Recently, it was reported that mice lacking the G-protein-coupling receptor somatostatin receptor-3 (SSTR3), a protein expressed predominately in the primary cilia of neurons, have defective memory for novel object recognition and lower cAMP levels in the brain. Since SSTR3 is coupled to regulation of adenylyl cyclase, this suggests that adenylyl cyclase activity in primary cilia of CNS neurons may be critical for some forms of learning and memory. Because the type 3 adenylyl cyclase (AC3) is expressed in primary cilia of hippocampal neurons, we examined AC3-/- mice for several forms of learning and memory. Here, we report that AC3-/- mice show no short-term memory for novel objects and fail to exhibit extinction of contextual fear conditioning. They also show impaired learning and memory for temporally dissociative passive avoidance. Since AC3 is exclusively expressed in primary cilia, we conclude that cAMP signals generated within primary cilia contribute to some forms of learning and memory, including extinction of contextual fear conditioning.
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