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    Deficiency in neuronal structural plasticity is involved in the development of major depressive disorder. TWIST1, a helix-loop-helix transcription factor that is essential for morphogenesis and organogenesis, is normally expressed at low levels in mature neurons. However, it is poorly understood what role TWIST1 plays in the brain and whether it is involved in the pathophysiology of depression. Depressive-like behaviors in C57BL/6J mice were developed by chronic social defeat stress. Genetic and pharmacological approaches were used to investigate the role of the TWIST1-miR-214-PPAR-δ signaling pathway in depressive-like behaviors. Molecular biological and morphological studies were performed to define the molecular mechanisms downstream of TWIST1. The expression of TWIST1 was positively correlated with depressive behaviors in humans and mice. Chronic stress elevated TWIST1 expression in the medial prefrontal cortex of mice, which was reversed by fluoxetine treatment. While the overexpression of TWIST1 increased susceptibility to stress, the knockdown of TWIST1 prevented the defective morphogenesis of dendrites of pyramidal neurons in layer II/III of the medial prefrontal cortex and alleviated depressive-like behaviors. Mechanistically, this prodepressant property of TWIST1 was mediated, at least in part, through the repression of miR-214-PPAR-δ signaling and mitochondrial function, which was also mimicked by genetic and pharmacological inhibition of PPAR-δ. These results suggest that TWIST1 in the medial prefrontal cortex mediates chronic stress-induced dendritic remodeling and facilitates the occurrence of depressive-like behavior, providing new information for developing drug targets for depression therapy. Copyright © 2020 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Jin-Gang He, Hai-Yun Zhou, Shi-Ge Xue, Jia-Jing Lu, Jun-Feng Xu, Bin Zhou, Zhuang-Li Hu, Peng-Fei Wu, Li-Hong Long, Lan Ni, You Jin, Fang Wang, Jian-Guo Chen. Transcription Factor TWIST1 Integrates Dendritic Remodeling and Chronic Stress to Promote Depressive-like Behaviors. Biological psychiatry. 2021 Mar 15;89(6):615-626

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    PMID: 33190845

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