Class E basic helix-loop-helix protein 79; Transcription factor expressed in neurons of the brain that regulates the excitatory-inhibitory balance within neural circuits and is required for contextual memory in the hyppocampus (By similarity). Plays a key role in the structural and functional plasticity of neurons (By similarity). Acts as an early-response transcription factor in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons, where it induces distinct but overlapping sets of late-response genes in these two types of neurons, allowing the synapses that form on inhibitory and excitatory neurons to be modified by neuronal activity in a manner specific to their function within a circuit, thereby facilitating appropriate circuit responses to sensory experience (By similarity). In excitatory neurons, activates transcription of BDNF, which in turn controls the number of GABA-releasing synapses that form on excitatory neurons, thereby promoting an increased number of inhibitory synapses on excitatory neurons (By similarity). In inhibitory neurons, regulates a distinct set of target genes that serve to increase excitatory input onto somatostatin neurons, probably resulting in enhanced feedback inhibition within cortical circuits (By similarity). The excitatory and inhibitory balance in neurons affects a number of processes, such as short-term and long-term memory, acquisition of experience, fear memory, response to stress and social behavior (By similarity). Acts as a regulator of dendritic spine development in olfactory bulb granule cells in a sensory-experience-dependent manner by regulating expression of MDM2 (By similarity). Efficient DNA binding requires dimerization with another bHLH protein, such as ARNT, ARNT2 or BMAL1. Can activate the CME (CNS midline enhancer) element; Basic helix-loop-helix proteins
Synonyms: NPAS4, NPAS4p, hNPAS4, B7ZL81, Q8IUM7 ...