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Psychoneuroendocrinology

The stress-inducible actin-interacting protein DRR1 shapes social behavior.


PMID 24998413

Abstract

Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which stress is translated into changes in complex behavior may help to identify novel treatment strategies for stress-associated psychiatric disorders. The tumor suppressor gene down-regulated in renal cell carcinoma 1 (DRR1) was recently characterized as a new molecular link between stress, synaptic efficacy and behavioral performance, most likely through its ability to modulate actin dynamics. The lateral septum is one of the brain regions prominently involved in the stress response. This brain region features high DRR1 expression in adult mice, even under basal conditions. We therefore aimed to characterize and dissect the functional role of septal DRR1 in modulating complex behavior. DRR1 protein expression was shown to be expressed in both neurons and astrocytes of the lateral septum of adult mice. Septal DRR1 mRNA expression increased after acute defeat stress and glucocorticoid receptor activation. To mimic the stress-induced DRR1 increase in the lateral septum of mice, we performed adenovirus-mediated region-specific overexpression of DRR1 and characterized the behavior of these mice. Overexpression of DRR1 in the septal region increased sociability, but did not change cognitive, anxiety-like or anhedonic behavior. The observed changes in social behavior did not involve alterations of the expression of vasopressin or oxytocin receptors, the canonical social neuropeptidergic circuits of the lateral septum. In summary, our data suggest that the stress-induced increase of DRR1 expression in the lateral septum could be a protective mechanism to buffer or counterbalance negative consequences of stress exposure on social behavior.