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Keywords:

  • Addiction;
  • anxiety;
  • corticotropin-releasing factor;
  • ethanol;
  • protein kinase C;
  • RNA interference

Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), its receptors, and signaling pathways that regulate CRF expression and responses are areas of intense investigation for new drugs to treat affective disorders. Here, we report that protein kinase C epsilon (PKCɛ) null mutant mice, which show reduced anxiety-like behavior, have reduced levels of CRF messenger RNA and peptide in the amygdala. In primary amygdala neurons, a selective PKCɛ activator, ψɛRACK, increased levels of pro-CRF, whereas reducing PKCɛ levels through RNA interference blocked phorbol ester-stimulated increases in CRF. Local knockdown of amygdala PKCɛ by RNA interference reduced anxiety-like behavior in wild-type mice. Furthermore, local infusion of CRF into the amygdala of PKCɛ−/− mice increased their anxiety-like behavior. These results are consistent with a novel mechanism of PKCɛ control over anxiety-like behavior through regulation of CRF in the amygdala.