Inhibiting activator protein-1 activity alters cocaine-induced gene expression and potentiates sensitization.

PMID 18355967


We have expressed A-FOS, an inhibitor of activator protein-1 (AP-1) DNA binding, in adult mouse striatal neurons. We observed normal behavior including locomotion and exploratory activities. Following a single injection of cocaine, locomotion increased similarly in both the A-FOS expressing and littermate controls. However, following repeated injections of cocaine, the A-FOS expressing mice showed increased locomotion relative to littermate controls, an increase that persisted following a week of withdrawal and subsequent cocaine administration. These results indicate that AP-1 suppresses this behavioral response to cocaine. We analyzed mRNA from the striatum before and 4 and 24 h after a single cocaine injection in both A-FOS and control striata using Affymetrix microarrays (430 2.0 Array) to identify genes mis-regulated by A-FOS that may mediate the increased locomotor sensitization to cocaine. A-FOS expression did not change gene expression in the basal state or 4 h following cocaine treatment relative to controls. However, 24 h after an acute cocaine treatment, 84 genes were identified that were differentially expressed between the A-FOS and control mice. Fifty-six genes are down-regulated while 28 genes are up-regulated including previously identified candidates for addiction including brain-derived neurotrophic factor and period homolog 1. Using a random sample of identified genes, quantitative PCR was used to verify the microarray studies. The chromosomal location of these 84 genes was compared with human genome scans of addiction to identify potential genes in humans that are involved in addiction.