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Keywords:

  • expression;
  • Homer;
  • mGluRs;
  • plasticity;
  • real-time RT-PCR

Abstract

The present study focuses on the nicotine-induced modulation of mRNA and protein expression of a number of genes involved in glutamatergic synaptic transmission in rat brain over different time periods of exposure. A subchronic (3 days) but not the chronic (7 or 14 days) administration of nicotine resulted in the up-regulation of Homer2a/b mRNA in the amygdala while in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) no change in expression of either Homer2a/b or Homer1b/c was observed. Although the increase in Homer2a/b mRNA was not translated into the protein level in the amygdala, a slight but significant up-regulation of Homer1b/c protein was observed in the same region at day 3. Both Homer forms were up-regulated at the protein level in the VTA at day 3. In the nucleus accumbens, 14 days of nicotine treatment up-regulated mRNA of Homer2b/c by 68.2% (P < 0.05), while the short form Homer1a gene was down-regulated by 65.0% at day 3 (P < 0.05). In regard to other components of the glutamatergic signalling, we identified an acute and intermittent increase in the mRNA and protein levels of mGluR1 and mGluR5 in the amygdala. In the VTA, however, the effects of nicotine on mGluR mRNA expression were long-lasting but rather specific to mGluR1. Nevertheless, mGluR1 protein levels in the VTA area were up-regulated only at day 3, as in the amygdala. These data provide further evidence for the involvement of nicotine in the glutamatergic neuronal synaptic activity in vivo, suggesting a role for the newly identified Homer proteins in this paradigm.