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This study sought to determine if reducing dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) expression in the dorsal striatum (DS) via RNA-interference alters methamphetamine self-administration. A lentiviral construct containing a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) was used to knock down D1R expression (D1RshRNA). D1RshRNA in male rats increased responding for methamphetamine (i.v.) under a fixed-ratio schedule in an extended access paradigm, compared to D1R-intact rats. D1RshRNA also produced a vertical shift in a dose-response paradigm and enhanced responding for methamphetamine in a progressive-ratio schedule, generating a drug-vulnerable phenotype. D1RshRNA did not alter responding for sucrose (oral) under a fixed-ratio schedule compared to D1R-intact rats. Western blotting confirmed reduced D1R expression in methamphetamine and sucrose D1RshRNA rats. D1RshRNA reduced the expression of PSD-95 and MAPK-1 and increased the expression of dopamine transporter (DAT) in the DS from methamphetamine, but not sucrose rats. Sucrose density gradient fractionation was performed in behavior-naïve controls, D1RshRNA- and D1R-intact rats to determine the subcellular localization of D1Rs, DAT and D1R signaling proteins. D1Rs, DAT, MAPK-1 and PSD-95 predominantly localized to heavy fractions, and the membrane/lipid raft protein caveolin-1 (Cav-1) and flotillin-1 were distributed equally between buoyant and heavy fractions in controls. Methamphetamine increased localization of PSD-95, Cav-1, and flotillin-1 in D1RshRNA and D1R-intact rats to buoyant fractions. Our studies indicate that reduced D1R expression in the DS increases vulnerability to methamphetamine addiction-like behavior, and this is accompanied by striatal alterations in the expression of DAT and D1R signaling proteins and is independent of the subcellular localization of these proteins.


Alison D Kreisler, Michael J Terranova, Sucharita S Somkuwar, Dvijen C Purohit, Shanshan Wang, Brian P Head, Chitra D Mandyam. In vivo reduction of striatal D1R by RNA interference alters expression of D1R signaling-related proteins and enhances methamphetamine addiction in male rats. Brain structure & function. 2020 Apr;225(3):1073-1088

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PMID: 32246242

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