Freud-1/Cc2d1a represses the gene transcription of serotonin-1A (5-HT1A) autoreceptors, which negatively regulate 5-HT tone. To test the role of Freud-1 in vivo, we generated mice with adulthood conditional knock-out of Freud-1 in 5-HT neurons (cF1ko). In cF1ko mice, 5-HT1A autoreceptor protein, binding and hypothermia response were increased, with reduced 5-HT content and neuronal activity in the dorsal raphe. The cF1ko mice displayed increased anxiety- and depression-like behavior that was resistant to chronic antidepressant (fluoxetine) treatment. Using conditional Freud-1/5-HT1A double knock-out (cF1/1A dko) to disrupt both Freud-1 and 5-HT1A genes in 5-HT neurons, no increase in anxiety- or depression-like behavior was seen upon knock-out of Freud-1 on the 5-HT1A autoreceptor-negative background; rather, a reduction in depression-like behavior emerged. These studies implicate transcriptional dysregulation of 5-HT1A autoreceptors by the repressor Freud-1 in anxiety and depression and provide a clinically relevant genetic model of antidepressant resistance. Targeting specific transcription factors, such as Freud-1, to restore transcriptional balance may augment response to antidepressant treatment.
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