We propose to maintain and continuously improve the Yale/NIDA Neuroproteomics Center that brings exceptionally strong Yale programs in proteomics and signal transduction in the brain together with neuroscientists from nine other institutions across the U.S. to identify adaptive changes in protein signaling that occur in response to substances of abuse. Twenty-three faculties with established records of highly innovative research into the molecular actions of psychoactive addictive drugs, as well as of other basic aspects of neurobiology, will work together in a unique synergy with the Keck Foundation Biotechnology Laboratory to create the Yale/NIDA Neuroproteomics Center. The main goal of the Center, whose theme is Proteomics of Altered Signaling in Addiction, is to use cutting edge proteomic technologies to analyze neuronal signal transduction mechanisms and the adaptive changes in these processes that occur in response to drugs of abuse. With Co-Directors Drs. Angus Nairn (Psychiatry) and Kenneth Williams (Mol. Biophys. & Biochem.) in the Administration Core, the Center includes Discovery Proteomics (DPC) and Targeted Proteomics (TPC) Cores. Biophysical technologies from the DPC will extend protein profiling analyses into the functional domain while lipid analyses from the DPC will positively leverage proteome level analyses to provide an increasingly biological systems level approach. A Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core, which includes high performance computing and the Yale Protein Expression Database, provides essential support that will positively leverage the value of each of the proteomic technology cores. A Pilot Research Project Core is a cornerstone in our efforts to encourage strong mentoring relationships that will help attract and train future outstanding scientists. Behavioral adaptations that accompany drug addiction are believed to result from both short and long-term adaptive changes in brain reward centers. Thus, exposure to drugs of abuse regulates intracellular signaling processes that alter gene expression, protein translation, and protein post-translational modifications. Repeated exposure to drugs of abuse leads to stable alterations in these signaling systems that are critical for the changes in brain chemistry and structure of the addicted brain. The Center's research goals include analysis of the actions of cannabis, cocaine, nicotine, and opioids on these intracellular signaling pathways in brain reward areas and development of methods that enable proteomic analysis of single types of neurons that define the circuits that underlie the actions and addictive properties of drugs of abuse. Targeted and data- independent MS analyses of signaling proteins implicated in the actions of drugs of abuse will be used to analyze the impact of substance abuse on the neuroproteome with motif-based, Top-Down MS/MS, and other approaches being used to study protein post-translational modifications. A major initiative led by the Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core will be to develop novel methods for deep integration of genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data with brain region and cell type-specificity.
Drugs of abuse usurp and modify communication between different types of neurons within defined circuits in the brain, resulting in stable changes in the expression and activities of proteins (the 'neuroproteome') required for normal neuronal function. Improving our fundamental understanding of how drugs of abuse alter the distinct neuroproteomes of specific neuronal sub-types will provide deeper insight into the process of drug addiction and thus help in the design of new and more effective therapeutic strategies.
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