Memory formation is thought to be mediated by dendritic-spine growth and restructuring. Myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) restricts spine growth in vitro, suggesting that this transcription factor negatively regulates the spine remodeling necessary for memory formation. Here we show that memory formation in adult mice was associated with changes in endogenous MEF2 levels and function. Locally and acutely increasing MEF2 function in the dentate gyrus blocked both learning-induced increases in spine density and spatial-memory formation. Increasing MEF2 function in amygdala disrupted fear-memory formation. We rescued MEF2-induced memory disruption by interfering with AMPA receptor endocytosis, suggesting that AMPA receptor trafficking is a key mechanism underlying the effects of MEF2. In contrast, decreasing MEF2 function in dentate gyrus and amygdala facilitated the formation of spatial and fear memory, respectively. These bidirectional effects indicate that MEF2 is a key regulator of plasticity and that relieving the suppressive effects of MEF2-mediated transcription permits memory formation.
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