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Keywords:

  • cocaine;
  • lncRNA;
  • nucleus accumbens;
  • transcriptome

Abstract

Cocaine dependence involves in the brain's reward circuit as well as nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key region of the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. Many studies have documented altered expression of genes and identified transcription factor networks and epigenetic processes that are fundamental to cocaine addiction. However, all these investigations have focused on mRNA of encoding genes, which may not always reflect the involvement of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which has been implied in a broad range of biological processes and complex diseases including brain development and neuropathological process. To explore the potential involvement of lncRNAs in drug addiction, which is viewed as a form of aberrant neuroplasticity, we used a custom-designed microarray to examine the expression profiles of mRNAs and lncRNAs in brain NAc of cocaine-conditioned mice and identified 764 mRNAs, and 603 lncRNAs were differentially expressed. Candidate lncRNAs were identified for further genomic context characterization as sense-overlap, antisense-overlap, intergenic, bidirection, and ultra-conserved region encoding lncRNAs. We found that 410 candidate lncRNAs which have been reported to act in cis or trans to their targeted loci, providing 48 pair mRNA-lncRNAs. These results suggest that the modification of mRNAs expression by cocaine may be associated with the actions of lncRNAs. Taken together, our results show that cocaine can cause the genome-wide alterations of lncRNAs expressed in NAc, and some of these modified RNA transcripts may to play a role in cocaine-induced neural plasticity and addiction.