[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: β-catenin is a multi-functional protein that has an important role in the mature central nervous system; its dysfunction has been implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression. Here we show that in mice β-catenin mediates pro-resilient and anxiolytic effects in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain reward region, an effect mediated by D2-type medium spiny neurons. Using genome-wide β-catenin enrichment mapping, we identify Dicer1-important in small RNA (for example, microRNA) biogenesis-as a β-catenin target gene that mediates resilience. Small RNA profiling after excising β-catenin from nucleus accumbens in the context of chronic stress reveals β-catenin-dependent microRNA regulation associated with resilience. Together, these findings establish β-catenin as a critical regulator in the development of behavioural resilience, activating a network that includes Dicer1 and downstream microRNAs. We thus present a foundation for the development of novel therapeutic targets to promote stress resilience.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, rapid advances in epigenomics research have extensively characterized critical roles for chromatin regulatory events during normal periods of eukaryotic cell development and plasticity, as well as part of aberrant processes implicated in human disease. Application of such approaches to studies of the CNS, however, is more recent. Here we provide a comprehensive overview of available tools for analyzing neuroepigenomics data, as well as a discussion of pending challenges specific to the field of neuroscience. Integration of numerous unbiased genome-wide and proteomic approaches will be necessary to fully understand the neuroepigenome and the extraordinarily complex nature of the human brain. This will be critical to the development of future diagnostic and therapeutic strategies aimed at alleviating the vast array of heterogeneous and genetically distinct disorders of the CNS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse or stress regulates transcription factors, chromatin-modifying enzymes and histone post-translational modifications in discrete brain regions. Given the promiscuity of the enzymes involved, it has not yet been possible to obtain direct causal evidence to implicate the regulation of transcription and consequent behavioral plasticity by chromatin remodeling that occurs at a single gene. We investigated the mechanism linking chromatin dynamics to neurobiological phenomena by applying engineered transcription factors to selectively modify chromatin at a specific mouse gene in vivo. We found that histone methylation or acetylation at the Fosb locus in nucleus accumbens, a brain reward region, was sufficient to control drug- and stress-evoked transcriptional and behavioral responses via interactions with the endogenous transcriptional machinery. This approach allowed us to relate the epigenetic landscape at a given gene directly to regulation of its expression and to its subsequent effects on reward behavior.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous work has implicated the transcription factor, ΔFosB, acting in the nucleus accumbens, in mediating the pro-rewarding effects of drugs of abuse such as cocaine as well as in mediating resilience to chronic social stress. However, the transgenic and viral gene transfer models used to establish these ΔFosB phenotypes express, in addition to ΔFosB, an alternative translation product of ΔFosB mRNA, termed Δ2ΔFosB, which lacks the N-terminal 78 aa present in ΔFosB. To study the possible contribution of Δ2ΔFosB to these drug and stress phenotypes, we prepared a viral vector that overexpresses a point mutant form of ΔFosB mRNA which cannot undergo alternative translation as well as a vector that overexpresses Δ2ΔFosB alone. Our results show that the mutant form of ΔFosB, when overexpressed in the nucleus accumbens, reproduces the enhancement of reward and of resilience seen with our earlier models, with no effects seen for Δ2ΔFosB. Overexpression of full length FosB, the other major product of the FosB gene, also has no effect. These findings confirm the unique role of ΔFosB in nucleus accumbens in controlling responses to drugs of abuse and stress.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychiatric disorders are complex multifactorial disorders involving chronic alterations in neural circuit structure and function. While genetic factors play a role in the etiology of disorders such as depression, addiction, and schizophrenia, relatively high rates of discordance among identical twins clearly point to the importance of additional factors. Environmental factors, such as stress, play a major role in the psychiatric disorders by inducing stable changes in gene expression, neural circuit function, and ultimately behavior. Insults at the developmental stage and in adulthood appear to induce distinct maladaptations. Increasing evidence indicates that these sustained abnormalities are maintained by epigenetic modifications in specific brain regions. Indeed, transcriptional dysregulation and associated aberrant epigenetic regulation is a unifying theme in psychiatric disorders. Aspects of depression can be modeled in animals by inducing disease-like states through environmental manipulations, and these studies can provide a more general understanding of epigenetic mechanisms in psychiatric disorders. Understanding how environmental factors recruit the epigenetic machinery in animal models is providing new insights into disease mechanisms in humans.
Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 09/2014; 16(3):281-95.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] 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. · 4.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia remains among the most prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders, and current treatment options are accompanied by unwanted side effects. New treatments that better address core features of the disease with minimal side effects are needed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drugs of abuse modulate the function and activity of the mesolimbic dopamine circuit. To identify novel mediators of drug-induced neuroadaptations in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), we performed RNA sequencing analysis on VTA samples from mice administered repeated saline, morphine, or cocaine injections. One gene that was similarly upregulated by both drugs was serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1). SGK1 activity, as measured by phosphorylation of its substrate N-myc downstream-regulated gene (NDRG), was also increased robustly by chronic drug treatment. Increased NDRG phosphorylation was evident 1 but not 24 hours after the last drug injection. SGK1 phosphorylation itself was similarly modulated. To determine the role of increased SGK1 activity on drug-related behaviors, we overexpressed constitutively-active (CA) SGK1 in the VTA. SGK1-CA expression reduced locomotor sensitization elicited by repeated cocaine, but surprisingly had the opposite effect and promoted locomotor sensitization to morphine, without affecting the initial locomotor responses to either drug. SGK1-CA expression did not significantly affect morphine or cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP), although there was a trend towards increased CPP with both drugs. Further characterizing the role of this kinase in drug-induced changes in VTA may lead to improved understanding of neuroadaptations critical to drug dependence and addiction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Journal of Neurochemistry 08/2014; · 3.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Repeated Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration produces cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R) desensitization and downregulation, as well as tolerance to its in vivo pharmacological effects. However, the magnitude of CB1R desensitization varies by brain region, with CB1Rs in the striatum and its output nuclei undergoing less desensitization than other regions. A growing body of data indicates that regional differences in CB1R desensitization are produced, in part, by THC-mediated induction of the stable transcription factor, ΔFosB, and subsequent regulation of CB1Rs. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether THC-mediated induction of ΔFosB in the striatum inhibits CB1R desensitization in the striatum and output nuclei. This hypothesis was tested using bitransgenic mice with inducible expression of ΔFosB or ΔcJun, a dominant negative inhibitor of AP-1-mediated transcription, in specific forebrain regions. Mice were treated repeatedly with escalating doses of THC or vehicle for 6.5 days, and CB1R-mediated G-protein activation was assessed using CP55,940-stimulated [(35)S]GTPγS autoradiography. Overexpression of ΔFosB in striatal dopamine type 1 receptor-containing (D1R) medium spiny neurons (MSNs) attenuated CB1R desensitization in the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and amygdala. Expression of ΔcJun in striatal D1R- and dopamine type 2 receptor (D2R)-containing MSNs enhanced CB1R desensitization in the caudate-putamen and attenuated desensitization in the hippocampus and VTA. THC-mediated in vivo pharmacological effects were then assessed in ΔcJun-expressing mice. Tolerance to THC-mediated hypomotility was enhanced in ΔcJun-expressing mice. These data reveal that ΔFosB and possibly other AP-1 binding proteins regulate CB1R signaling and adaptation in the striatum and limbic system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abnormal regulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 has been implicated in 3,4-dihydroxy-l-phenylalanine (L-DOPA)-induced dyskinesia (LID), a motor complication affecting Parkinson's disease patients subjected to standard pharmacotherapy. We examined the involvement of mitogen- and stress-activated kinase 1 (MSK1), a downstream target of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2, and an important regulator of transcription in LID.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A leading hypothesis guiding current molecular and cellular research into drug addiction conceptualizes key aspects of addiction as a form of memory in which common neuroplasticity mechanisms that mediate normal learning and memory processes are 'hijacked' by exposure to drugs of abuse to produce pathologic addiction-related memories. Such addiction-related memories are particularly robust and long-lasting and once formed are less amenable to updating. Here we propose a neural rejuvenation hypothesis of cocaine addiction. According to this hypothesis, repeated exposure to drugs of abuse induces some plasticity mechanisms normally associated with brain development within the reward circuitry that mediate the highly efficient and unusually stable memory abnormalities that characterize addiction.
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 06/2014; · 9.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays a central role in the mechanism of action of drugs of abuse. The major neuronal type within the NAc is the GABAergic medium spiny neuron (MSN), with two major subpopulations defined-termed D1-type and D2-type MSNs-based on the predominant dopamine receptor expressed. However, very little is known about the contribution of altered GABAergic function in NAc MSNs to the neural and behavioral plasticity that contributes to the lasting actions of drugs of abuse. In the present study, we show that GABAergic activity is selectively modulated in D1-type MSNs of the NAc by signaling of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor, tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB), and that such adaptations control rewarding responses to morphine. Optical activation of D1-type MSNs, or the knockout of TrkB from D1-type MSNs (D1-TrkB KO), enhances morphine reward, effects not seen for D2-type MSNs. In addition, D1-TrkB KO mice, but not D2-TrkB KO mice, display decreased GABAA receptor (GABAAR) subunit expression and reduced spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in D1-type, but not D2-type, MSNs in the NAc. Furthermore, we found that GABAAR antagonism in the NAc enhances morphine reward and that morphine exposure decreases TrkB expression as well as GABAergic activity in D1-type MSNs. Together, these data provide evidence for the enhancement of morphine reward through reduction of inhibitory GABAAR responses, an adaptation mediated by morphine-induced reduction of BDNF-TrkB signaling in D1-type MSNs.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 23 May 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.118.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 05/2014; · 8.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasing evidence supports a role for altered gene expression in mediating the lasting effects of cocaine on the brain, and recent work has demonstrated the involvement of chromatin modifications in these alterations. However, all such studies to date have been restricted by their reliance on microarray technologies that have intrinsic limitations.
We use next generation sequencing methods, RNA-seq and ChIP-seq for RNA polymerase II and several histone methylation marks, to obtain a more complete view of cocaine-induced changes in gene expression and associated adaptations in numerous modes of chromatin regulation in the mouse nucleus accumbens, a key brain reward region. We demonstrate an unexpectedly large number of pre-mRNA splicing alterations in response to repeated cocaine treatment. In addition, we identify combinations of chromatin changes, or signatures, that correlate with cocaine-dependent regulation of gene expression, including those involving pre-mRNA alternative splicing. Through bioinformatic prediction and biological validation, we identify one particular splicing factor, A2BP1(Rbfox1/Fox-1), which is enriched at genes that display certain chromatin signatures and contributes to drug-induced behavioral abnormalities. Together, this delineation of the cocaine-induced epigenome in the nucleus accumbens reveals several novel modes of regulation by which cocaine alters the brain.
We establish combinatorial chromatin and transcriptional profiles in mouse nucleus accumbens after repeated cocaine treatment. These results serve as an important resource for the field and provide a template for the analysis of other systems to reveal new transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of neuronal regulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the relationship between the millions of functional DNA elements and their protein regulators, and how they work in conjunction to manifest diverse phenotypes, is key to advancing our understanding of the mammalian genome. Next-generation sequencing technology is now used widely to probe these protein-DNA interactions and to profile gene expression at a genome-wide scale. As the cost of DNA sequencing continues to fall, the interpretation of the ever increasing amount of data generated represents a considerable challenge.
We have developed ngs.plot - a standalone program to visualize enrichment patterns of DNA-interacting proteins at functionally important regions based on next-generation sequencing data. We demonstrate that ngs.plot is not only efficient but also scalable. We use a few examples to demonstrate that ngs.plot is easy to use and yet very powerful to generate figures that are publication ready.
We conclude that ngs.plot is a useful tool to help fill the gap between massive datasets and genomic information in this era of big sequencing data.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychiatric disorders are complex multifactorial illnesses involving chronic alterations in neural circuit structure and function. While genetic factors are important in the etiology of disorders such as depression and addiction, relatively high rates of discordance among identical twins clearly indicate the importance of additional mechanisms. Environmental factors such as stress or prior drug exposure are known to play a role in the onset of these illnesses. Such exposure to environmental insults induces stable changes in gene expression, neural circuit function, and ultimately behavior, and these maladaptations appear distinct between developmental and adult exposures. Increasing evidence indicates that these sustained abnormalities are maintained by epigenetic modifications in specific brain regions. Indeed, transcriptional dysregulation and associated aberrant epigenetic regulation is a unifying theme in psychiatric disorders. Aspects of depression and addiction can be modeled in animals by inducing disease-like states through environmental manipulations (e.g., chronic-stress, drug administration). Understanding how environmental factors recruit the epigenetic machinery in animal models is revealing new insight into disease mechanisms in humans.
Journal of Molecular Biology 04/2014; · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Fosb gene encodes subunits of the activator protein-1 transcription factor complex. Two mature mRNAs, Fosb and ΔFosb, encoding full-length FOSB and ΔFOSB proteins respectively, are formed by alternative splicing of Fosb mRNA. Fosb products are expressed in several brain regions. Moreover, Fosb-null mice exhibit depressive-like behaviors and adult-onset spontaneous epilepsy, demonstrating important roles in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Study of Fosb products has focused almost exclusively on neurons; their function in glial cells remains to be explored. In this study, we found that microglia express equivalent levels of Fosb and ΔFosb mRNAs to hippocampal neurons and, using microarray analysis, we identified six microglial genes whose expression is dependent on Fosb products. Of these genes, we focused on C5ar1 and C5ar2, which encode receptors for complement C5a. In isolated Fosb-null microglia, chemotactic responsiveness toward the truncated form of C5a was significantly lower than that in wild-type cells. Fosb-null mice were significantly resistant to kainate-induced seizures compared with wild-type mice. C5ar1 mRNA levels and C5aR1 immunoreactivity were increased in wild-type hippocampus 24 hours after kainate administration; however, such induction was significantly reduced in Fosb-null hippocampus. Furthermore, microglial activation after kainate administration was significantly diminished in Fosb-null hippocampus, as shown by significant reductions in CD68 immunoreactivity, morphological change and reduced levels of Il6 and Tnf mRNAs, although no change in the number of Iba-1-positive cells was observed. These findings demonstrate that, under excitotoxicity, Fosb products contribute to a neuroinflammatory response in the hippocampus through regulation of microglial C5ar1 and C5ar2 expression. GLIA 2014
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluoxetine treatment in adulthood evokes antidepressant and anxiolytic responses. Paradoxically, postnatal fluoxetine (PNFlx) induces persistent depression- and anxiety-like behaviors. The mechanistic underpinnings of this paradox remain poorly understood. Here, we examined specific molecular changes in the rat hippocampus that accompany perturbed emotionality observed across life following PNFlx. PNFlx-induced hippocampal gene regulation observed in microarray and quantitative PCR studies indicate functional enrichment of genes involved in response to organic substances, protein kinase pathways, DNA binding and transcriptional repression. We noted specific transcripts (Hdac4, mTOR, Gnai1, Prkcc, Hcn1) that were consistently dysregulated across life, and selectively influenced by postnatal, but not adult, fluoxetine. Increased histone deacetylase-4 (HDAC4) recruitment, accompanied by decreased activating histone acetylation marks at the mTOR and Gnai1 promoters, indicate a role for HDAC4 in PNFlx-mediated gene dysregulation. Strikingly, co-administration of the HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate with PNFlx prevented the dysregulation of Hdac4 and mTOR, and the emergence of depression- and anxiety-like behavior. Importantly, we also find that re-treatment of PNFlx animals with fluoxetine in adulthood reversed the increased Hdac4 expression, prevented HDAC4 recruitment to the mTOR and Gnai1 promoters, and attenuated the decline in mTOR and Gnai1 expression, coincident with normalization of PNFlx-evoked depression- and anxiety-like behavior. Further, we show that viral-mediated hippocampal overexpression of Hdac4 was sufficient to induce depression-, but not anxiety-, like behavior in adulthood. Our results highlight the unique nature of molecular signatures evoked by PNFlx, and implicate HDAC4 in the dysregulated gene expression and emergence of perturbed emotionality following fluoxetine exposure in early life.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 25 March 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.73.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 03/2014; · 8.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Decreased medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) neuronal activity is associated with social defeat-induced depression- and anxiety-like behaviors in mice. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the decreased mPFC activity and its prodepressant role remain unknown. We show here that induction of the transcription factor ΔFosB in mPFC, specifically in the prelimbic (PrL) area, mediates susceptibility to stress. ΔFosB induction in PrL occurred selectively in susceptible mice after chronic social defeat stress, and overexpression of ΔFosB in this region, but not in the nearby infralimbic (IL) area, enhanced stress susceptibility. ΔFosB produced these effects partly through induction of the cholecystokinin (CCK)-B receptor: CCKB blockade in mPFC induces a resilient phenotype, whereas CCK administration into mPFC mimics the anxiogenic- and depressant-like effects of social stress. We previously found that optogenetic stimulation of mPFC neurons in susceptible mice reverses several behavioral abnormalities seen after chronic social defeat stress. Therefore, we hypothesized that optogenetic stimulation of cortical projections would rescue the pathological effects of CCK in mPFC. After CCK infusion in mPFC, we optogenetically stimulated mPFC projections to basolateral amygdala or nucleus accumbens, two subcortical structures involved in mood regulation. Stimulation of corticoamygdala projections blocked the anxiogenic effect of CCK, although no effect was observed on other symptoms of social defeat. Conversely, stimulation of corticoaccumbens projections reversed CCK-induced social avoidance and sucrose preference deficits but not anxiogenic-like effects. Together, these results indicate that social stress-induced behavioral deficits are mediated partly by molecular adaptations in mPFC involving ΔFosB and CCK through cortical projections to distinct subcortical targets.
Journal of Neuroscience 03/2014; 34(11):3878-87. · 6.91 Impact Factor