KCNQ Channels Regulate Age-Related Memory Impairment.

KCNQ Channels Regulate Age-Related Memory Impairment.

PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e62445
Cavaliere S, Malik BR, Hodge JJ

In humans KCNQ2/3 heteromeric channels form an M-current that acts as a brake on neuronal excitability, with mutations causing a form of epilepsy. The M-current has been shown to be a key regulator of neuronal plasticity underlying associative memory and ethanol response in mammals. Previous work has shown that many of the molecules and plasticity mechanisms underlying changes in alcohol behaviour and addiction are shared with those of memory. We show that the single KCNQ channel in Drosophila (dKCNQ) when mutated show decrements in associative short- and long-term memory, with KCNQ function in the mushroom body ?/?neurons being required for short-term memory. Ethanol disrupts memory in wildtype flies, but not in a KCNQ null mutant background suggesting KCNQ maybe a direct target of ethanol, the blockade of which interferes with the plasticity machinery required for memory formation. We show that as in humans, Drosophila display age-related memory impairment with the KCNQ mutant memory defect mimicking the effect of age on memory. Expression of KCNQ normally decreases in aging brains and KCNQ overexpression in the mushroom body neurons of KCNQ mutants restores age-related memory impairment. Therefore KCNQ is a central plasticity molecule that regulates age dependent memory impairment. HubMed – addiction


Imbalanced decision hierarchy in addicts emerging from drug-hijacked dopamine spiraling circuit.

PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e61489
Keramati M, Gutkin B

Despite explicitly wanting to quit, long-term addicts find themselves powerless to resist drugs, despite knowing that drug-taking may be a harmful course of action. Such inconsistency between the explicit knowledge of negative consequences and the compulsive behavioral patterns represents a cognitive/behavioral conflict that is a central characteristic of addiction. Neurobiologically, differential cue-induced activity in distinct striatal subregions, as well as the dopamine connectivity spiraling from ventral striatal regions to the dorsal regions, play critical roles in compulsive drug seeking. However, the functional mechanism that integrates these neuropharmacological observations with the above-mentioned cognitive/behavioral conflict is unknown. Here we provide a formal computational explanation for the drug-induced cognitive inconsistency that is apparent in the addicts’ “self-described mistake”. We show that addictive drugs gradually produce a motivational bias toward drug-seeking at low-level habitual decision processes, despite the low abstract cognitive valuation of this behavior. This pathology emerges within the hierarchical reinforcement learning framework when chronic exposure to the drug pharmacologically produces pathologicaly persistent phasic dopamine signals. Thereby the drug hijacks the dopaminergic spirals that cascade the reinforcement signals down the ventro-dorsal cortico-striatal hierarchy. Neurobiologically, our theory accounts for rapid development of drug cue-elicited dopamine efflux in the ventral striatum and a delayed response in the dorsal striatum. Our theory also shows how this response pattern depends critically on the dopamine spiraling circuitry. Behaviorally, our framework explains gradual insensitivity of drug-seeking to drug-associated punishments, the blocking phenomenon for drug outcomes, and the persistent preference for drugs over natural rewards by addicts. The model suggests testable predictions and beyond that, sets the stage for a view of addiction as a pathology of hierarchical decision-making processes. This view is complementary to the traditional interpretation of addiction as interaction between habitual and goal-directed decision systems. HubMed – addiction


A view on EGFR-targeted therapies from the oncogene-addiction perspective.

Front Pharmacol. 2013; 4: 53
Perez R, Crombet T, de Leon J, Moreno E

Tumor cell growth and survival can often be impaired by inactivating a single oncogen- a phenomenon that has been called as “oncogene addiction.” It is in such scenarios that molecular targeted therapies may succeed. among known oncogenes, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has become the target of different cancer therapies. So far, however, the clinical benefit from EGFR-targeted therapies has been rather limited. a critical review of the large amount of clinical data obtained with anti-EGFR agents, carried out from the perspective of the oncogene addiction concept, may help to understand the causes of the unsatisfactory results. In this article we intend to do such an exercise taking as basis for the analysis a few case studies of anti-EGFR agents that are currently in the clinic. There, the “EGFR addiction” phenomenon becomes apparent in high-responder patients. We further discuss how the concept of oncogene addiction needs to be interpreted on the light of emerging experimental evidences and ideas; in particular, that EGFR addiction may reflect the interconnection of several cellular pathways. In this regard we set forth several hypotheses; namely, that requirement of higher glucose uptake by hypoxic tumor cells may reinforce EGFR addiction; and that chronic use of EGFR-targeted antibodies in EGFR-addicted tumors would induce stable disease by reversing the malignant phenotype of cancer stem cells and also by sustaining an anti-tumor T cell response. Finally, we discuss possible reasons for the failure of certain combinatorial therapies involving anti-EGFR agents, arguing that some of these agents might produce either a negative or a positive trans-modulation effect on other oncogenes. It becomes evident that we need operational definitions of EGFR addiction in order to determine which patient populations may benefit from treatment with anti-EGFR drugs, and to improve the design of these therapies. HubMed – addiction


Improved detection of common variants associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using pleiotropy-informed conditional false discovery rate.

PLoS Genet. 2013 Apr; 9(4): e1003455
Andreassen OA, Thompson WK, Schork AJ, Ripke S, Mattingsdal M, Kelsoe JR, Kendler KS, O’Donovan MC, Rujescu D, Werge T, Sklar P, , , Roddey JC, Chen CH, McEvoy L, Desikan RS, Djurovic S, Dale AM

Several lines of evidence suggest that genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have the potential to explain more of the “missing heritability” of common complex phenotypes. However, reliable methods to identify a larger proportion of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that impact disease risk are currently lacking. Here, we use a genetic pleiotropy-informed conditional false discovery rate (FDR) method on GWAS summary statistics data to identify new loci associated with schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorders (BD), two highly heritable disorders with significant missing heritability. Epidemiological and clinical evidence suggest similar disease characteristics and overlapping genes between SCZ and BD. Here, we computed conditional Q-Q curves of data from the Psychiatric Genome Consortium (SCZ; n?=?9,379 cases and n?=?7,736 controls; BD: n?=?6,990 cases and n?=?4,820 controls) to show enrichment of SNPs associated with SCZ as a function of association with BD and vice versa with a corresponding reduction in FDR. Applying the conditional FDR method, we identified 58 loci associated with SCZ and 35 loci associated with BD below the conditional FDR level of 0.05. Of these, 14 loci were associated with both SCZ and BD (conjunction FDR). Together, these findings show the feasibility of genetic pleiotropy-informed methods to improve gene discovery in SCZ and BD and indicate overlapping genetic mechanisms between these two disorders. HubMed – addiction