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Journal Article

Regulation and function of MeCP2 Ser421 phosphorylation in U50488-induced conditioned place aversion in mice


Zannas,  Anthony S.
Dept. Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Zannas, A. S., Kim, J. H., & West, A. E. (2017). Regulation and function of MeCP2 Ser421 phosphorylation in U50488-induced conditioned place aversion in mice. PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, 234(6), 913-923. doi:10.1007/s00213-017-4527-7.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-A5E3-7
Phosphorylation of the methyl DNA-binding protein MeCP2 at Ser421 (pMeCP2-S421) is induced in corticolimbic brain regions during exposure to drugs of abuse and modulates reward-driven behaviors. However, whether pMeCP2-S421 is also involved in behavioral adaptations to aversive drugs is unknown. Our goal was to establish the role and regulation of pMeCP2-S421 in corticolimbic brain regions of mice upon acute treatment with the kappa opioid receptor agonist U50488 and during the expression of U50488-induced conditioned place aversion (CPA). pMeCP2-S421 levels were measured in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), prelimbic cortex, infralimbic cortex (ILC), and basolateral amygdala (BLA) of male mice after intraperitoneal administration of U50488 and upon the expression of U50488-induced CPA. Fos was measured as marker of neural activity in the same brain regions. U50488-induced CPA and Fos levels were compared between knockin (KI) mice that lack pMeCP2-S421 and their wild-type (WT) littermates. U50488 administration acutely induced pMeCP2-S421 and Fos selectively in the NAc but did not alter MeCP2 levels in any brain region. U50488-induced CPA was associated with decreased pMeCP2-S421 in the ILC and BLA and induced Fos in the BLA. MeCP2 KI mice showed CPA indistinguishable from their WT littermates, but they also showed less BLA Fos induction upon CPA. These data are the first to show that pMeCP2-S421 is induced in the brain acutely after U50488 administration but not upon U50488-induced CPA. Although pMeCP2-S421 is not required for U50488-induced CPA, this phosphorylation event may contribute to molecular plasticities in brain regions that govern aversive behaviors.