Disruption of subcellular Arc/Arg 3.1 mRNA expression in striatal efferent neurons following partial monoamine loss induced by methamphetamine


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kristen A. Keefe - 30 South 2000 East, Room 201 L.S. Skaggs Hall, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. E-mail: k.keefe@utah.edu


The immediate-early gene Arc (activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein) is provocative in the context of neuroplasticity because of its experience-dependent regulation and mRNA transport to and translation at activated synapses. Normal rats have more preproenkephalin-negative (ppe-neg; presumed striatonigral) neurons with cytoplasmic Arc mRNA than ppe-positive (ppe-pos; striatopallidal) neurons, despite equivalent numbers of these neurons showing novelty-induced transcriptional activation of Arc. Furthermore, rats with partial monoamine loss induced by methamphetamine (METH) show impaired Arc mRNA expression in both ppe-neg and ppe-pos neurons relative to normal animals following response-reversal learning. In this study, Arc expression induced by exposure to a novel environment was used to assess transcriptional activation and cytoplasmic localization of Arc mRNA in striatal efferent neuron subpopulations subsequent to METH-induced neurotoxicity. Partial monoamine depletion significantly altered Arc expression. Specifically, basal Arc expression was elevated, but novelty-induced transcriptional activation was abolished. Without novelty-induced Arc transcription, METH-pre-treated rats also had fewer neurons with cytoplasmic Arc mRNA expression, with the effect being greater for ppe-neg neurons. Thus, METH-induced neurotoxicity substantially alters striatal efferent neuron function at the level of Arc transcription, suggesting a long-term shift in basal ganglia neuroplasticity processes subsequent to METH-induced neurotoxicity. Such changes potentially underlie striatally based learning deficits associated with METH-induced neurotoxicity.