Navigation Links
MicroRNA implicated as molecular factor in alcohol tolerance
Date:7/30/2008

WORCESTER, Mass.In recent years, a class of small molecules known as microRNA have been found to play an important role in regulating gene products in most animal and plant species. A new study now indicates that microRNA may influence the development of alcohol tolerance, a hallmark of alcohol abuse and dependence. Researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) report the findings in the July 31 issue of the journal Neuron.

"This is an intriguing contribution to efforts aimed at identifying the molecular bases of alcohol tolerance," noted NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, MD.

Tolerance is the decrease in sensitivity to alcohol that develops with repeated exposures to alcohol over time. Individuals who develop high tolerance (low sensitivity) to alcohol are at increased risk for becoming alcohol dependent. Thus, an important research objective has been to identify the adaptations within individual molecules that underlie tolerance.

In previous experiments, Steven N. Treistman, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), and colleagues at the university's Brudnick Neurospychiatric Research Institute (BNRI), determined that a brain cell membrane structure known as the BK channel develops tolerance to alcohol, particularly in the supraoptic nucleus and the striatum, two brain regions important in alcohol's effects. In both regions, alcohol tolerance was manifested as decreased alcohol sensitivity and reduced BK channel density. Previous studies have also shown that there are numerous variants of the BK channel gene.

In the current study, researchers led by Dr. Treistman, who is the director of the BNRI, examined whether microRNA might be involved in the alcohol tolerance observed in the BK channel.

In test tube experiments, the researchers showed that the amount of a specific microRNA molecule known as miR-9 increases in brain cells within minutes of exposure to alcohol. They also found that miR-9 blocks the expression of BK gene variants that contain a specific binding site for the molecule, while sparing those that lack a miR-9 binding site. Remarkably, the BK gene variants were destroyed exhibited high alcohol sensitivity, while those that remained showed significantly lower sensitivity, consistent with the development of tolerance.

"This represents a novel and elegant mechanism by which neurons are able to adapt to alcohol," said Treistman. "Moreover, since adaptation, or tolerance, to the drug likely contributes to alcohol abuse, our findings identify a potential molecular target for therapeutic intervention." Treistman credited his colleagues, especially Andrzej Z. Pietrzykowski, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of psychiatry, for their contributions to this important work.

A widely published expert on the molecular basis of addictionin particular, the changes in the brain that occur as a function of drug exposure, which may make an individual prone to substance abuse and the compulsive behavior associated with drug addictionDr. Treistman noted that the microRNA process observed in this study may represent a general mechanism of neuronal adaptation to alcohol, with miR-9 playing a pivotal role in a complex regulatory network.

"This study demonstrates for the first time that alcohol exposure can cause rapid changes in microRNA levels, altering gene expression and perhaps behavior," said Antonio Noronha, PhD, director of NIAAA's Division of Neuroscience and Behavior. "In future studies, it will be interesting to determine if similar microRNA-based regulatory mechanisms influence alcohol problems in human populations."


'/>"/>

Contact: Alison Duffy
alison.duffy@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists dig deeper into the genetics of schizophrenia by evaluating microRNAs
2. Yale scientists show that a microRNA can reduce lung cancer growth
3. MIT reports new twist in microRNA biology
4. Making sense of antisense microRNAs
5. Massive microRNA scan uncovers leads to treating muscle degeneration
6. A novel way found to prevent protein plaques implicated in Alzheimers
7. SNM awards $300,000 to support molecular imaging research
8. Livermore researchers use carbon nanotubes for molecular transport
9. A molecular switch turns on the flame in natures blowtorch
10. Scientists discover a molecular scaffold that guides connections between brain cells
11. Molecular clock could predict risk for developing breast cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... BANGALORE, India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a ... ), and Onegini today announced a partnership to ... banking solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... banks to provide their customers enhanced security to ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... TEL AVIV, Israel , April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... in Behavioral Authentication and Malware Detection, today announced the ... has already assumed the new role. Goldwerger,s ... for BioCatch, on the heels of the deployment of ... In addition, BioCatch,s behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... 2016 Einzigartige ... und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern     ... MESG ), ein führender Anbieter digitaler Kommunikationsdienste, ... SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen Biometrietechnologie einzusetzen. ... Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler Apps neben ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/2/2016)... Willoughby, Ohio (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 ... ... website. Designed with its clients in mind, the fresh look and added functionality ... capabilities. , “Recent years have seen a dynamic shift in agriculture – from ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Proove Biosciences, Inc ... announce the launch of the Proove Health Foundation . The Foundation is ... promote the use of personalized medicine for tackling the nation’s most-pressing healthcare epidemics. ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Summit for Stem Cell has received a $250,000 ... patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Summit research project ... The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA. , The aim of ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... YORK , April 28, 2016 ... acceleration company reports the Company,s CEO  was featured ... titled Accelerators Enter When VCs Fear To Tread: ... Science Leader magazine is an essential ... for everything from emerging biotechs to Big Pharmas. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: