Dynamic shifts in corticostriatal expression patterns of the immediate early genes Homer 1a and Zif268 during early and late phases of instrumental training.
ABSTRACT: Adaptive motor actions require prior knowledge of instrumental contingencies. With practice, these actions can become highly automatic in nature. However, the molecular and anatomical substrates mediating these related forms of learning are not understood. In the present study, we used in situ hybridization to measure the mRNA levels of two immediate early genes (IEGs) in an instrumental paradigm where rats learned to lever-press for food. We report that after three training sessions, Homer 1a and Zif268 (an effector and regulatory IEG, respectively) were significantly induced within an extensive corticostriatal network relative to untrained controls. With extended training (23 sessions), however, a shift in the expression patterns of the two genes was evident. Expression of Homer 1a (official symbol Homer1) decreased significantly in frontal and cingulate cortices, whereas striatal expression was generally maintained. Interestingly, Homer 1a expression markedly increased with extensive training in the ventrolateral region of the striatum (VLS) relative to early learners, suggesting that plasticity in the VLS is required for the efficient production of the learned behavior or in habit formation. Zif268 (official symbol Egr1) expression generally decreased with extensive training; however, these changes were not significant. These results demonstrate for the first time, on a molecular level, a dynamic shift in the contribution of corticostriatal systems mediating the early acquisition and consolidation of goal-directed responses to those engaged after extensive training.
Project description:Human imaging studies show that psychostimulants such as cocaine produce functional changes in several areas of cortex and striatum. These may reflect neuronal changes related to addiction. We employed gene markers (zif 268 and homer 1a) that offer a high anatomical resolution to map cocaine-induced changes in 22 cortical areas and 23 functionally related striatal sectors, in order to determine the corticostriatal circuits altered by repeated cocaine exposure (25 mg/kg, 5 days). Effects were investigated 1 day and 21 days after repeated treatment to assess their longevity. Repeated cocaine treatment increased basal expression of zif 268 predominantly in sensorimotor areas of the cortex. This effect endured for 3 weeks in some areas. These changes were accompanied by attenuated gene induction by a cocaine challenge. In the insular cortex, the cocaine challenge produced a decrease in zif 268 expression after the 21-day, but not 1-day, withdrawal period. In the striatum, cocaine also affected mostly sensorimotor sectors. Repeated cocaine resulted in blunted inducibility of both zif 268 and homer 1a, changes that were still very robust 3 weeks later. Thus, our findings demonstrate that cocaine produces robust and long-lasting changes in gene regulation predominantly in sensorimotor corticostriatal circuits. These neuronal changes were associated with behavioral stereotypies, which are thought to reflect dysfunction in sensorimotor corticostriatal circuits. Future studies will have to elucidate the role of such neuronal changes in psychostimulant addiction.
Project description:Impulsivity shares high comorbidity with substance abuse in humans, and high impulsivity (HI) in rats has been identified as a predictive factor for cocaine addiction-like behavior. Despite the evidence that high impulsivity is associated with altered function of corticostriatal networks, the specific neural substrates underlying the increased vulnerability of impulsive individuals to develop cocaine addiction remain unknown. We therefore investigated specific neural correlates of HI within the corticostriatal circuitry and determined how they interact with a protracted history of cocaine self-administration. We used in situ hybridization to map brain expression of two major genes implicated in impulsivity, encoding the dopamine D2 receptor (DA D2R) and the 5-HT2c receptor (5-HT2cR), and an immediate early gene associated with neuronal plasticity, zif268, in groups of rats selected for HI and low impulsivity (LI) on a 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) immediately after 5-CSRTT training, and following 10 or 50 days of cocaine self-administration. HI rats exhibited decreased DA D2R mRNA in the mesolimbic pathway, and increased 5-HT2cR mRNA in the orbitofrontal cortex compared with LI rats. HI rats also showed decreased zif268 mRNA in the ventral and dorsomedial striatum. Cocaine exposure decreased striatal D2R mRNA in both HI and LI rats, decreased 5-HT2cR mRNA differentially in striatal and prefrontal areas between HI and LI rats, and selectively decreased zif268 mRNA in the orbitofrontal and infralimbic cortices of HI animals. These findings implicate novel markers underlying the vulnerability of impulsive rats to cocaine addiction that localize to the OFC, infralimbic cortex, and striatum.
Project description:AIM: To investigate the different effects of heroin and milk in activating the corticostriatal system that plays a critical role in reward reinforcement learning. METHODS: Male SD rats were trained daily for 15 d to self-administer heroin or milk tablets in a classic runway drug self-administration model. Immunohistochemical assay was used to quantify Arc protein expression in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the nucleus accumbens (NAc), the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) and the ventrolateral striatum (VLS) in response to chronic self-administration of heroin or milk tablets. NMDA receptor antagonist MK801 (0.1 mg/kg) or dopamine D1 receptor antagonist SCH23390 (0.03 mg/kg) were intravenously injected at the same time as heroin was infused intravenously. RESULTS: Runway training with heroin resulted in robust enhancement of Arc expression in the mPFC, the NAc and the DMS on d 1, 7, and 15, and in the VLS on d 1 and d 7. However, runway training with milk led to increased Arc expression in the mPFC, the NAc and the DMS only on d 7 and/or d 15 but not on d 1. Moreover, runway training with milk failed to induce increased Arc protein in the VLS. Both heroin-seeking behavior and Arc protein expression were blocked by MK801 or SCH23390 administration. CONCLUSION: The VLS is likely to be critically involved in drug-seeking behavior. The NMDA- and D1 receptor-dependent Arc expression is important in drug-seeking behavior.
Project description:Normal aging is associated with impairments in cognition, especially learning and memory. However, major individual differences are known to exist. Using the classical Morris Water Maze (MWM) task, we discriminated a population of 24-months old Long Evans aged rats in two groups--memory-impaired (AI) and memory-unimpaired (AU) in comparison with 6-months old adult animals. AI rats presented deficits in learning, reverse memory and retention. At the molecular level, an increase in metabotropic glutamate receptors 5 (mGluR5) was observed in post-synaptic densities (PSD) in the hippocampus of AU rats after training. Scaffolding Homer 1b/c proteins binding to group 1 mGluR facilitate coupling with its signaling effectors while Homer 1a reduces it. Both Homer 1a and 1b/c levels were up-regulated in the hippocampus PSD of AU animals following MWM task. Using immunohistochemistry we further demonstrated that mGluR5 as well as Homer 1b/c stainings were enhanced in the CA1 hippocampus sub-field of AU animals. In fact mGluR5 and Homer 1 isoforms were more abundant and co-localized in the hippocampal dendrites in AU rats. However, the ratio of Homer 1a/Homer 1b/c bound to mGluR5 in the PSD was four times lower for AU animals compared to AI rats. Consequently, AU animals presented higher PKC?, ERK, p70S6K, mTOR and CREB activation. Finally the expression of immediate early gene Arc/Arg3.1 was shown to be higher in AU rats in accordance with its role in spatial memory consolidation. On the basis of these results, a model of successful cognitive aging with a critical role for mGluR5, Homer 1 proteins and downstream signalling pathways is proposed here.
Project description:In three alternative splice variants of Homer 1 transcripts, Homer 1a mRNA has been shown to be upregulated selectively and rapidly by neural stimulation and represents a member of the immediate early gene (IEG) family. We investigated the mechanism underlying Homer 1a mRNA induction in cerebellar granule cell culture. All Homer 1 variants were expressed in cultured granule cells as analyzed by RNA blotting and immunochemical characterization. Glutamate stimulation of granule cells selectively upregulated Homer 1a mRNA via NMDA receptor-mediated influx of extracellular calcium. The induction of Homer 1a mRNA was much slower (peaked at 4 hr) and sustained longer than that of the typical IEG c-fos mRNA. Actinomycin D and cycloheximide experiments have revealed that, despite the presence of the mRNA-destabilizing AU-rich motif, transcriptional activation is a main determinant for selective Homer 1a mRNA induction. Inhibitor analysis as well as immunochemical characterization has indicated that the MEK (MAPK/ERK kinase)-ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) cascade plays an indispensable role in glutamate-stimulated induction of Homer 1a mRNA. Consistent with this observation, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is known to activate the ERK cascade, similarly upregulated Homer 1a mRNA. These results demonstrate that MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) is a key mediator that links distinct extracellular stimuli to the transcriptional activation of Homer 1a mRNA.
Project description:Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and Homer proteins play critical roles in neuronal functions including plasticity, nociception, epilepsy, and drug addiction. Furthermore, Homer proteins regulate mGluR1/5 function by acting as adapters and facilitating coupling to effectors such as the inositol triphosphate receptor. However, although Homer proteins and their interaction with mGluRs have been the subject of intense study, direct measurements of Homer-induced changes in postsynaptic mGluR-effector coupling have not been reported. This question was addressed here by examining glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in rat autaptic hippocampal cultures. In most neurons, the group I mGluR agonist (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine strongly inhibited the EPSC acutely. This modulation occurred postsynaptically, was mediated primarily by mGluR5, and was inositol triphosphate receptor-dependent. Expression of the dominant negative, immediate early form of Homer, Homer 1a, strongly reduced EPSC modulation, but the W24A mutant of Homer 1a, which cannot bind mGluRs, had no effect. (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine-mediated intracellular calcium responses in the processes of Homer 1a-expressing neurons were reduced compared with those in Homer 1a W24A-expressing cells. However, neither the distribution of mGluR5 nor the modulation of somatic calcium channels was altered by Homer 1a expression. These data demonstrate that Homer 1a can reduce mGluR5 coupling to postsynaptic effectors without relying on large changes in the subcellular distribution of the receptor. Thus, alteration of mGluR signaling by changes in Homer protein expression may represent a viable mechanism for fine-tuning synaptic strength in neurons.
Project description:Our previous studies found that Homer 1a, a scaffolding protein localized at the post-synaptic density (PSD) of glutamatergic excitatory synapses, is significantly down-regulated in the brain of spontaneous hypertensive rats (SHR), an animal model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, a first-line treatment drug for ADHD, methylphenidate, can up-regulate the expression of Homer 1a. To investigate the possible role of Homer 1a in the etiology and pathogenesis of ADHD, a lentiviral vector containing miRNA specific for Homer 1a was constructed in this study. Intracerebroventricular injection of this vector into the brain of Sprague Dawley (SD) rats significantly decreased Homer 1a mRNA and protein expression levels. Compared to their negative controls, these rats displayed a range of abnormal behaviors, including increased locomotor activity and non-selective attention and impaired learning ability. Our results indicated that Homer 1a down-regulation results in deficits in control over behavioral output and learning similar to ADHD.
Project description:Homer-1a is a 30 kDa protein that forms part of a family of conserved Homer-related proteins that interact with the C-termini of the metabotropic glutamate receptors mGluR1alpha and mGluR5a. Analysis of HEK-293 cells by PCR showed that they contained mRNA coding for members of the Homer family with the predominant form being Homer-1b, which is consistent with the immunochemical analysis of these cells. Homer-1a could not be detected by immunochemical analysis. To examine the function of Homer-1a, HEK-293 cells were transfected with cDNA encoding mGluR1alpha or Homer-1a or co-transfected with both cDNAs. When cells were co-transfected with the cDNAs for both proteins, immunofluorescent staining and biotinylation of cell surface molecules revealed a significant increase in the amount of receptor present at the cell surface in contrast to cells transfected with mGluR1alpha cDNA alone. This finding was consistent with a concomitant increase in the production of inositol phosphates after treatment of the doubly transfected cells with agonist. Intracellular immunostaining for both proteins revealed that they were co-localized and underwent a redistribution into a large vesicular compartment when they were co-expressed.
Project description:Traumatic brain injury (TBI) produces excessive glutamate, leading to excitotoxicity via the activation of glutamate receptors. Postsynaptic density scaffold proteins have crucial roles in mediating signal transduction from glutamate receptors to their downstream mediators. Therefore, studies on the mechanisms underlying regulation of excitotoxicity by scaffold proteins can uncover new treatments for TBI. Here, we demonstrated that the postsynaptic scaffold protein Homer 1a was neuroprotective against TBI in vitro and in vivo, and this neuroprotection was associated with its effects on group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Upon further study, we found that Homer 1a mainly affected neuronal injury induced by mGluR1 activation after TBI and also influenced mGluR5 function when its activity was restored. The ability of Homer 1a to disrupt mGluR-ERK signaling contributed to its ability to regulate the functions of mGluR1 and mGluR5 after traumatic injury. Intracellular Ca(2+) and PKC were two important factors involved in the mediation of mGluR-ERK signaling by Homer 1a. These results define Homer 1a as a novel endogenous neuroprotective agent against TBI.
Project description:Gene transcription is essential for learning, but the precise role of transcription factors that control expression of many other genes in specific learning paradigms is yet poorly understood. Zif268 (Krox24/Egr-1) is a transcription factor and an immediate-early gene associated with memory consolidation and reconsolidation, and induced in the striatum after addictive drugs exposure. In contrast, very little is known about its physiological role at early stages of operant learning. We investigated the role of Zif268 in operant conditioning for food. Zif268 expression was increased in all regions of the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens in mice subjected to the first session of operant conditioning. In contrast, Zif268 increase in the dorsomedial caudate-putamen and nucleus accumbens core was not detected in yoked mice passively receiving the food reward. This indicates that Zif268 induction in these structures is linked to experiencing or learning contingency, but not to reward delivery. When the task was learned (5 sessions), Zif268 induction disappeared in the nucleus accumbens and decreased in the medial caudate-putamen, whereas it remained high in the lateral caudate-putamen, previously implicated in habit formation. In transgenic mice expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the striatonigral neurons, Zif268 induction occured after the first training session in both GFP-positive and negative neurons indicating an enhanced Zif268 expression in both striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons. Mutant mice lacking Zif268 expression obtained less rewards, but displayed a normal discrimination between reinforced and non-reinforced targets, and an unaltered approach to food delivery box. In addition, their motivation to obtain food rewards, evaluated in a progressive ratio schedule, was blunted. In conclusion, Zif268 participates in the processes underlying performance and motivation to execute food-conditioned instrumental task.