Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction

Date:
May 9, 2014
Source:
McLean Hospital
Summary:
A gene essential for normal brain development, and previously linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, also plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors, researchers report. The team used animal models to show that the fragile X mental retardation protein, or FMRP, plays a critical role in the development of addiction-related behaviors. FMRP is also the protein that is missing in Fragile X Syndrome, the leading single-gene cause of autism and intellectual disability.

In a paper published in the latest issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron, McLean Hospital investigators report that a gene essential for normal brain development, and previously linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, also plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors.

Related Articles


"In our lab, we investigate the brain mechanisms behind drug addiction -- a common and devastating disease with limited treatment options," explained Christopher Cowan, PhD, director of the Integrated Neurobiology Laboratory at McLean and an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse causes changes in the brain that could underlie the transition from casual drug use to addiction. By discovering the brain molecules that control the development of drug addiction, we hope to identify new treatment approaches."

The Cowan lab team, led by Laura Smith, PhD, an instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, used animal models to show that the fragile X mental retardation protein, or FMRP, plays a critical role in the development of addiction-related behaviors. FMRP is also the protein that is missing in Fragile X Syndrome, the leading single-gene cause of autism and intellectual disability. Consistent with its important role in brain function, the team found that cocaine utilizes FMRP to facilitate brain changes involved in addiction-related behaviors.

Cowan, whose work tends to focus on identifying novel genes related to conditions such as autism and drug addiction, explained that FMRP controls the remodeling and strength of connections in the brain during normal development. Their current findings reveal that FMRP plays a critical role in the changes in brain connections that occur following repeated cocaine exposure.

"We know that experiences are able to modify the brain in important ways. Some of these brain changes help us, by allowing us to learn and remember. Other changes are harmful, such as those that occur in individuals struggling with drug abuse," noted Cowan and Smith. "While FMRP allows individuals to learn and remember things in their environment properly, it also controls how the brain responds to cocaine and ends up strengthening drug behaviors. By better understanding FMRP's role in this process, we may someday be able to suggest effective therapeutic options to prevent or reverse these changes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McLean Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura N. Smith, Jakub P. Jedynak, Miles R. Fontenot, Carly F. Hale, Karen C. Dietz, Makoto Taniguchi, Feba S. Thomas, Benjamin C. Zirlin, Shari G. Birnbaum, Kimberly M. Huber, Mark J. Thomas, Christopher W. Cowan. Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein Regulates Synaptic and Behavioral Plasticity to Repeated Cocaine Administration. Neuron, 2014; 82 (3): 645 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.028

Cite This Page:

McLean Hospital. "Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509172915.htm>.
McLean Hospital. (2014, May 9). Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509172915.htm
McLean Hospital. "Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509172915.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins