Behavioral and Structural Responses to Chronic Cocaine Require a Feedforward Loop Involving ΔFosB and Calcium/Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase II in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell.
ABSTRACT The transcription factor ΔFosB and the brain-enriched calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKIIα) are induced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) by chronic exposure to cocaine or other psychostimulant drugs of abuse, in which the two proteins mediate sensitized drug responses. Although ΔFosB and CaMKIIα both regulate AMPA glutamate receptor expression and function in NAc, dendritic spine formation on NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs), and locomotor sensitization to cocaine, no direct link between these molecules has to date been explored. Here, we demonstrate that ΔFosB is phosphorylated by CaMKIIα at the protein-stabilizing Ser27 and that CaMKII is required for the cocaine-mediated accumulation of ΔFosB in rat NAc. Conversely, we show that ΔFosB is both necessary and sufficient for cocaine induction of CaMKIIα gene expression in vivo, an effect selective for D1-type MSNs in the NAc shell subregion. Furthermore, induction of dendritic spines on NAc MSNs and increased behavioral responsiveness to cocaine after NAc overexpression of ΔFosB are both CaMKII dependent. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time induction of ΔFosB and CaMKII in the NAc of human cocaine addicts, suggesting possible targets for future therapeutic intervention. These data establish that ΔFosB and CaMKII engage in a cell-type- and brain-region-specific positive feedforward loop as a key mechanism for regulating the reward circuitry of the brain in response to chronic cocaine.
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ABSTRACT: Stable changes in neuronal gene expression have been studied as mediators of addicted states. Of particular interest is the transcription factor ΔFosB, a truncated and stable FosB gene product whose expression in nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key reward region, is induced by chronic exposure to virtually all drugs of abuse and regulates their psychomotor and rewarding effects. Phosphorylation at Ser(27) contributes to ΔFosB's stability and accumulation following repeated exposure to drugs, and our recent work demonstrates that the protein kinase CaMKIIα phosphorylates ΔFosB at Ser(27) and regulates its stability in vivo. Here, we identify two additional sites on ΔFosB that are phosphorylated in vitro by CaMKIIα, Thr(149) and Thr(180), and demonstrate their regulation in vivo by chronic cocaine. We show that phosphomimetic mutation of Thr(149) (T149D) dramatically increases AP-1 transcriptional activity while alanine mutation does not affect transcriptional activity when compared with wild-type (WT) ΔFosB. Using in vivo viral-mediated gene transfer of ΔFosB-T149D or ΔFosB-T149A in mouse NAc, we determined that overexpression of ΔFosB-T149D in NAc leads to greater locomotor activity in response to an initial low dose of cocaine than does WT ΔFosB, while overexpression of ΔFosB-T149A does not produce the psychomotor sensitization to chronic low-dose cocaine seen after overexpression of WT ΔFosB and abrogates the sensitization seen in control animals at higher cocaine doses. We further demonstrate that mutation of Thr(149) does not affect the stability of ΔFosB overexpressed in mouse NAc, suggesting that the behavioral effects of these mutations are driven by their altered transcriptional properties.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 08/2014; 34(34):11461-9. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1611-14.2014 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Although addiction develops in a considerable number of regular cocaine users, molecular risk factors for cocaine dependence are still unknown. It was proposed that establishing drug use and memory formation might share molecular and anatomical pathways. Alpha-Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-II (αCaMKII) is a key mediator of learning and memory also involved in drug-related plasticity. The autophosphorylation of αCaMKII was shown to accelerate learning. Thus, we investigated the role of αCaMKII autophosphorylation in the time course of establishing cocaine use-related behavior in mice. We found that αCaMKII autophosphorylation-deficient αCaMKII(T286A) mice show delayed establishment of conditioned place preference, but no changes in acute behavioral activation, sensitization or conditioned hyperlocomotion to cocaine (20 mg kg(-1), intraperitoneal). In vivo microdialysis revealed that αCaMKII(T286A) mice have blunted dopamine (DA) and blocked serotonin (5-HT) responses in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and prefrontal cortex after acute cocaine administration (20 mg kg(-1), intraperitoneal), whereas noradrenaline responses were preserved. Under cocaine, the attenuated DA and 5-HT activation in αCaMKII(T286A) mice was followed by impaired c-Fos activation in the NAcc. To translate the rodent findings to human conditions, several CAMK2A gene polymorphisms were tested regarding their risk for a fast establishment of cocaine dependence in two independent samples of regular cocaine users from Brazil (n=688) and Switzerland (n=141). A meta-analysis across both samples confirmed that CAMK2A rs3776823 TT-allele carriers display a faster transition to severe cocaine use than C-allele carriers. Together, these data suggest that αCaMKII controls the speed for the establishment of cocaine's reinforcing effects.Translational Psychiatry 10/2014; 4:e457. DOI:10.1038/tp.2014.97 · 4.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Environmental enrichment produces protective addiction and depression phenotypes in rats. ΔFosB is a transcription factor that regulates reward in the brain and is induced by psychological stress as well as drugs of abuse. However, the role played by ΔFosB in the protective phenotypes of environmental enrichment has not been well studied. Here, we demonstrate that ΔFosB is differentially regulated in rats reared in an isolated condition (IC) compared to those in an enriched condition (EC) in response to restraint stress or cocaine. Chronic stress or chronic cocaine treatment each elevates ΔFosB protein levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of IC rats, but not of EC rats due to an already elevated basal accumulation of ΔFosB seen under EC conditions. Viral-mediated overexpression of ΔFosB in the NAc shell of pair-housed rats (i.e., independent of environmental enrichment/isolation) increases operant responding for sucrose when motivated by hunger, but decreases responding in satiated animals. Moreover, ΔFosB overexpression decreases cocaine self-administration, enhances extinction of cocaine seeking, and decreases cocaine-induced reinstatement of intravenous cocaine self-administration; all behavioral findings consistent with the enrichment phenotype. In contrast, however, ΔFosB overexpression did not alter responses of pair-housed rats in several tests of anxiety- and depression-related behavior. Thus, ΔFosB in the NAc the shell mimics the protective addiction phenotype, but not the protective depression phenotype of environmental enrichment.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 08/2014; 8:297. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00297 · 4.16 Impact Factor