It is always a big deal when a researcher gets their first paper published. It is also a big deal when your work gets the cover of a journal.  Corey Duke just published a first author paper and got the cover!  Corey’s research is featured in the July 2017 issue of Learning & Memory.    He is a MD/PHD student in the lab of Dr. Jeremy Day, in the Department of Neurobiology.

Experience-dependent epigenomic reorganization in the hippocampus

  1. Corey G. Duke1,
  2. Andrew J. Kennedy2,
  3. Cristin F. Gavin1,
  4. Jeremy J. Day1 and
  5. David Sweatt3
+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Neurobiology, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA
  2. 2Department of Chemistry, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine 04240, USA
  3. 3Department of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37235, USA
  4. Corresponding authors:;

Using a hippocampus-dependent contextual threat learning and memory task, we report widespread, coordinated DNA methylation changes in CA1 hippocampus of Sprague-Dawley rats specific to threat learning at genes involved in synaptic transmission. Experience-dependent alternations in gene expression and DNA methylation were observed as early as 1 h following memory acquisition and became more pronounced after 24 h. Gene ontology analysis revealed significant enrichment of functional categories related to synaptic transmission in genes that were hypomethylated at 24 h following threat learning. Integration of these data sets with previously characterized epigenetic and transcriptional changes in brain disease states suggested significant overlap between genes regulated by memory formation and genes altered in memory-related neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. These findings provide a comprehensive resource to aid in the identification of memory-relevant therapeutic targets. Our results shed new light on the gene expression and DNA methylation changes involved in memory formation, confirming that these processes are dynamic and experience-dependent. Finally, this work provides a roadmap for future studies to identify linkage of memory-associated genes to altered disease states.


  1. [Supplemental material is available for this article.]
  2. Article is online at
  1. Received January 23, 2017.
  2. Accepted April 12, 2017.
  1. © 2017 Duke et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 
  2. This article is distributed exclusively by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the first 12 months after the full-issue publication date (see After 12 months, it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International), as described at