[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mechanisms controlling release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway remain unknown. We report that phasic optogenetic activation of this pathway increases BDNF amounts in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of socially stressed mice but not of stress-naive mice. This stress gating of BDNF signaling is mediated by corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) acting in the NAc. These results unravel a stress context-detecting function of the brain's mesolimbic circuit.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transcription factor, ΔFosB, is robustly and persistently induced in striatum by several chronic stimuli, such as drugs of abuse, antipsychotic drugs, natural rewards, and stress. However, very few studies have examined the degree of ΔFosB induction in the two striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) subtypes. We make use of fluorescent reporter BAC transgenic mice to evaluate induction of ΔFosB in dopamine receptor 1 (D1) enriched and dopamine receptor 2 (D2) enriched MSNs in ventral striatum, nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell and core, and in dorsal striatum (dStr) after chronic exposure to several drugs of abuse including cocaine, ethanol, Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, and opiates; the antipsychotic drug, haloperidol; juvenile enrichment; sucrose drinking; calorie restriction; the serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, fluoxetine; and social defeat stress. Our findings demonstrate that chronic exposure to many stimuli induces ΔFosB in an MSN-subtype selective pattern across all three striatal regions. To explore the circuit-mediated induction of ΔFosB in striatum, we use optogenetics to enhance activity in limbic brain regions that send synaptic inputs to NAc; these regions include the ventral tegmental area and several glutamatergic afferent regions: medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and ventral hippocampus. These optogenetic conditions lead to highly distinct patterns of ΔFosB induction in MSN subtypes in NAc core and shell. Together, these findings establish selective patterns of ΔFosB induction in striatal MSN subtypes in response to chronic stimuli and provide novel insight into the circuit-level mechanisms of ΔFosB induction in striatum.
Journal of Neuroscience 11/2013; 33(47):18381-18395. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic social defeat stress in mice produces a susceptible phenotype characterized by several behavioral abnormalities consistent with human depression, that are reversed by chronic but not acute exposure to antidepressant medications. Recent work in addiction models demonstrates that the transcription factor ?FosB and protein kinase CaMKII are co-regulated in nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain reward region implicated in both addiction and depression models including social defeat. Previous work has also demonstrated that ?FosB is induced in NAc after chronic social defeat stress or after chronic antidepressant treatment, where it mediates a pro-resilience or antidepressant-like phenotype. Here, using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we found that ?FosB binds the CaMKIIα gene promoter in NAc, and that this binding increases after mice are exposed to chronic social defeat stress. Paradoxically, chronic exposure to the antidepressant fluoxetine reduces binding of ?FosB to the CaMKIIα promoter, and reduces CaMKII expression in NAc, despite the fact that ?FosB is induced under these conditions. These data suggest a novel epigenetic mechanism of antidepressant action, whereby fluoxetine induces some chromatin change at the CaMKIIα promoter which blocks ?FosB binding. Indeed, chronic fluoxetine reduces acetylation and increases lysine 9 dimethylation of histone H3 at the CaMKIIα promoter in NAc, effects also seen in depressed humans exposed to antidepressants. Overexpression of CaMKII in NAc blocks fluoxetine's antidepressant effects in the chronic social defeat paradigm, while inhibition of CaMKII activity in NAc mimics fluoxetine exposure. These findings suggest that epigenetic suppression of CaMKIIα expression in NAc is behaviorally relevant and offer a novel pathway for possible therapeutic intervention in depression and related syndromes.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 15 November 2013. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.319.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 11/2013; · 6.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sirtuins (SIRTs), class III histone deacetylases, are well characterized for their control of cellular physiology in peripheral tissues, but their influence in brain under normal and pathological conditions remains poorly understood. Here, we establish an essential role for SIRT1 and SIRT2 in regulating behavioral responses to cocaine and morphine through actions in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key brain reward region. We show that chronic cocaine administration increases SIRT1 and SIRT2 expression in the mouse NAc, while chronic morphine administration induces SIRT1 expression alone, with no regulation of all other sirtuin family members observed. Drug induction of SIRT1 and SIRT2 is mediated in part at the transcriptional level via the drug-induced transcription factor ΔFosB and is associated with robust histone modifications at the Sirt1 and Sirt2 genes. Viral-mediated overexpression of SIRT1 or SIRT2 in the NAc enhances the rewarding effects of both cocaine and morphine. In contrast, the local knockdown of SIRT1 from the NAc of floxed Sirt1 mice decreases drug reward. Such behavioral effects of SIRT1 occur in concert with its regulation of numerous synaptic proteins in NAc as well as with SIRT1-mediated induction of dendritic spines on NAc medium spiny neurons. These studies establish sirtuins as key mediators of the molecular and cellular plasticity induced by drugs of abuse in NAc, and of the associated behavioral adaptations, and point toward novel signaling pathways involved in drug action.
Journal of Neuroscience 10/2013; 33(41):16088-16098. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In rat models of drug relapse and craving, cue-induced cocaine seeking progressively increases after withdrawal from the drug. This 'incubation of cocaine craving' is partially mediated by time-dependent adaptations at glutamatergic synapses in nucleus accumbens (NAc). However, the circuit-level adaptations mediating this plasticity remain elusive. We studied silent synapses, often regarded as immature synapses that express stable NMDA receptors with AMPA receptors being either absent or labile, in the projection from the basolateral amygdala to the NAc in incubation of cocaine craving. Silent synapses were detected in this projection during early withdrawal from cocaine. As the withdrawal period progressed, these silent synapses became unsilenced, a process that involved synaptic insertion of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors (CP-AMPARs). In vivo optogenetic stimulation-induced downregulation of CP-AMPARs at amygdala-to-NAc synapses, which re-silenced some of the previously silent synapses after prolonged withdrawal, decreased incubation of cocaine craving. Our findings indicate that silent synapse-based reorganization of the amygdala-to-NAc projection is critical for persistent cocaine craving and relapse after withdrawal.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ΔFosB, a FosB gene product, is induced in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) by repeated exposure to several stimuli including antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol. However, the functional consequences of increased ΔFosB expression following antipsychotic treatment has not been explored. Here, we assessed whether ΔFosB induction by haloperidol mediates the negative consequences or clinical-related efficacy of antipsychotic treatment. We show that individuals with schizophrenia who were medicated with antipsychotic drugs at their time of death display increased ΔFosB levels in the PFC, an effect that is replicated in rats treated chronically with haloperidol. In contrast, individuals with schizophrenia who were medication-free did not exhibit this effect. Viral-mediated overexpression of ?FosB in the PFC of rodents induced cognitive deficits as measured by inhibitory avoidance, increased startle responses in PPI tasks, and increased MK-801-induced anxiety-like behaviors. Together, these results suggest that ?FosB induction in PFC by antipsychotic treatment contributes to the deleterious effects of these drugs and not to their therapeutic actions.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 26 September 2013. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.255.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 09/2013; · 6.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mood disorders are common and debilitating conditions characterized in part by profound deficits in reward-related behavioural domains. A recent literature has identified important structural and functional alterations within the brain's reward circuitry - particularly in the ventral tegmental area-nucleus accumbens pathway - that are associated with symptoms such as anhedonia and aberrant reward-associated perception and memory. This Review synthesizes recent data from human and rodent studies from which emerges a circuit-level framework for understanding reward deficits in depression. We also discuss some of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of this framework, ranging from adaptations in glutamatergic synapses and neurotrophic factors to transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Motivated behaviors, including sexual experience, activate the mesolimbic dopamine system and produce long-lasting molecular and structural changes in the nucleus accumbens. The transcription factor ΔFosB is hypothesized to partly mediate this experience-dependent plasticity. Previous research in our laboratory has demonstrated that overexpressing ΔFosB in the nucleus accumbens of female Syrian hamsters augments the ability of sexual experience to cause the formation of a conditioned place preference. It is unknown, however, whether ΔFosB-mediated transcription in the nucleus accumbens is required for the behavioral consequences of sexual reward. We therefore used an adeno-associated virus to overexpress ΔJunD, a dominant negative binding partner of ΔFosB that decreases ΔFosB-mediated transcription by competitively heterodimerizing with ΔFosB before binding at promotor regions on target genes, in the nucleus accumbens. We found that overexpression of ΔJunD prevented the formation of a conditioned place preference following repeated sexual experiences. These data, when coupled with our previous findings, suggest that ∆FosB is both necessary and sufficient for behavioral plasticity following sexual experience. Furthermore, these results contribute to an important and growing body of literature demonstrating the necessity of endogenous ΔFosB expression in the nucleus accumbens for adaptive responding to naturally rewarding stimuli.
Genes Brain and Behavior 06/2013; · 3.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A decade-long project, led by several international research groups, called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), recently released an unprecedented amount of data. The ambitious project covers transcriptome, cistrome, epigenome, and interactome data from more than 1,600 sets of experiments in human. To make use of this valuable resource, it is important to understand the information it represents and the techniques that were used to generate these data. In this review, we introduce the data that ENCODE generated, summarize the observations from the data analysis, and revisit a computational approach that ENCODE used to predict gene expression, with a focus on the human transcriptome and its association with chromatin modifications.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drug addiction involves potentially life-long behavioral abnormalities that are caused in vulnerable individuals by repeated exposure to a drug of abuse. The persistence of these behavioral changes suggests that long-lasting changes in gene expression, within particular regions of the brain, may contribute importantly to the addiction phenotype. Work over the past decade has demonstrated a crucial role for epigenetic mechanisms in driving lasting changes in gene expression in diverse tissues, including brain. This has prompted recent research aimed at characterizing the influence of epigenetic regulatory events in mediating the lasting effects of drugs of abuse on the brain in animal models of drug addiction. This review provides a progress report of this still early work in the field. As will be seen, there is robust evidence that repeated exposure to drugs of abuse induces changes within the brain's reward regions in three major modes of epigenetic regulation-histone modifications such as acetylation and methylation, DNA methylation, and non-coding RNAs. In several instances, it has been possible to demonstrate directly the contribution of such epigenetic changes to addiction-related behavioral abnormalities. Studies of epigenetic mechanisms of addiction are also providing an unprecedented view of the range of genes and non-genic regions that are affected by repeated drug exposure and the precise molecular basis of that regulation. Work is now needed to validate key aspects of this work in human addiction and evaluate the possibility of mining this information to develop new diagnostic tests and more effective treatments for addiction syndromes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulator of G protein signaling 4 (Rgs4) is a signal transduction protein that controls the function of monoamine, opiate, muscarinic, and other G protein-coupled receptors via interactions with Gα subunits. Rgs4 is expressed in several brain regions involved in mood, movement, cognition, and addiction and is regulated by psychotropic drugs, stress, and corticosteroids. In this study, we use genetic mouse models and viral-mediated gene transfer to examine the role of Rgs4 in the actions of antidepressant medications. We first analyzed human postmortem brain tissue and found robust up-regulation of RGS4 expression in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of subjects receiving standard antidepressant medications that target monoamine systems. Behavioral studies of mice lacking Rgs4, including specific knockdowns in NAc, demonstrate that Rgs4 in this brain region acts as a positive modulator of the antidepressant-like and antiallodynic-like actions of several monoamine-directed antidepressant drugs, including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Studies using viral-mediated increases in Rgs4 activity in NAc further support this hypothesis. Interestingly, in prefrontal cortex, Rgs4 acts as a negative modulator of the actions of nonmonoamine-directed drugs that are purported to act as antidepressants: the N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor antagonist ketamine and the delta opioid agonist (+)-4-[(αR)-α-((2S,5R)-4-Allyl-2,5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-3-methoxybenzyl]-N,N-diethylbenzamide. Together, these data reveal a unique modulatory role of Rgs4 in the brain region-specific actions of a wide range of antidepressant drugs and indicate that pharmacological interventions at the level of RGS4 activity may enhance the actions of such drugs used for the treatment of depression and neuropathic pain.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Positron emission tomography (PET) with [(18)F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose was used to measure changes in regional brain glucose metabolism (BGluM) in response to optogenetic stimulation (using the excitatory channelrhodopsin-2) of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in awake rats. We demonstrated not only increases in BGluM that correlated with c-Fos expression in the region of stimulation, but also BGluM increases in the ipsilateral striatum, periaqueductal gray, and somatosensory cortex, and in contralateral amygdala, ventral pallidum, globus pallidus, and hippocampus, as well as decreases in BGluM in regions of the default mode network (retrosplenial cortex and cingulate gyrus) and secondary motor cortex. Additional exploration of c-Fos expression in regions found to be activated by PET results found corroborating evidence, with increased c-Fos expression in the ipsilateral somatosensory cortex, contralateral amygdala and globus pallidus, and bilateral periaqueductal gray. These findings are consistent with optogenetic excitation of the area of stimulation (NAc), as well as with stimulatory and inhibitory effects on downstream regions. They also confirm the utility of PET imaging to monitor connectivity in the awake rodent brain.
Journal of Neuroscience 04/2013; 33(15):6343-6349. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serotonin 5-HT2A and metabotropic glutamate 2 (mGlu2) are G protein-coupled receptors suspected in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and suicide. Previous findings demonstrate that mGlu2 mRNA expression is down-regulated in brain cortical regions of 5-HT2A knockout (KO) mice. However, the molecular mechanism responsible for this alteration remains unknown. We show here repressive epigenetic changes at the promoter region of the mGlu2 gene in frontal cortex of 5-HT2A-KO mice. Disruption of 5-HT2A receptor-dependent signaling in mice was associated with decreased acetylation of histone H3 (H3ac) and H4 (H4ac), and increased tri-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3) at the mGlu2 promoter-epigenetic changes that correlate with transcriptional repression. Neither methylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me1/2/3) nor tri-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me3) was affected. We found that Egr1, a transcription factor whose promoter activity was positively regulated by the 5-HT2A receptor agonist TCB-2, binds less to the mGlu2 promoter in frontal cortex of 5-HT2A-KO as compared to wild-type mice. Furthermore, expression of mGlu2 was increased by viral-mediated gene transfer of Flag-tagged Egr1 in mouse frontal cortex. Together, these observations suggest that 5-HT2A receptor-dependent signaling epigenetically affects mGlu2 transcription in mouse frontal cortex.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induction of histone acetylation in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key brain reward region, promotes cocaine-induced alterations in gene expression. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) tightly regulate the acetylation of histone tails, but little is known about the functional specificity of different HDAC isoforms in the development and maintenance of cocaine-induced plasticity, and previous studies of HDAC inhibitors report conflicting effects on cocaine-elicited behavioral adaptations. Here we demonstrate that specific and prolonged blockade of HDAC1 in NAc of mice increased global levels of histone acetylation, but also induced repressive histone methylation and antagonized cocaine-induced changes in behavior, an effect mediated in part through a chromatin-mediated suppression of GABAA receptor subunit expression and inhibitory tone on NAc neurons. Our findings suggest a new mechanism by which prolonged and selective HDAC inhibition can alter behavioral and molecular adaptations to cocaine and inform the development of therapeutics for cocaine addiction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] 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.
Journal of Neuroscience 03/2013; 33(10):4295-4307. · 6.91 Impact Factor