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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.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC1783614 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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