Alcohol abuse and dependence affect an estimated 8.5% of the U.S. population and are responsible for substantial health and societal costs. The overarching goal of the Alcohol Research Center at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI-ARC) is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of vulnerability to alcohol dependence, with a focus on dysregulation of excitatory neurotransmission in stress-responsive brain regions, such as the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). In addition, adult neurogenesis will be examined during withdrawal. The Viral Vector Core will be instrumental in the realization of experiments proposed in TSRI-ARC Research Components by providing validated tools to manipulate gene expression locally and to label newborn neurons in adult rats exposed to models of binge drinking or alcohol dependence.
Specific Aim 1 is to characterize the ability of seven adeno-associated virus (AAV) pseudotypes to transduce glutamatergic cells in the BLA and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which send excitatory projections to the BLA and BNST. Results from this Aim will be used to select the best-suited AAV pseudotype for the production of custom AAV vectors in Specific Aims 2 and 3.
Specific Aim 2 is to provide AAV vectors for local silencing of monoacylglycerol lipase expression in BLA and vmPFC, and for knockdown of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor type 1 selectively in BLA glutamatergic neurons.
Specific Aim 3 is to provide AAV vectors for functional knockdown or glutamatergic neuron-specific overexpression of neuronal pentraxin 2 in the BLA.
Specific Aim 4 is to provide a retroviral vector expressing EGFP. This vector will label newborn neurons in the adult rat brain and enable characterization of their morphology and physiology. For each viral vector, we propose to design and clone DNA constructs, obtain high-titer, purified viral stocks from an outside production facility and validate their silencing/overexpression efficiency in vivo. Altogether, we anticipate that the innovative molecular tools provided by the Viral Vector Core will assist in gaining novel insights into the neurobiological mechanisms of excessive alcohol drinking.

Public Health Relevance

The Viral Vector Core will provide tools to manipulate excitatory neurotransmission and label birth of new neurons in the adult rat brain. Viral vectors are an innovative and efficient approach to examine the role of genes or cells of interest in rat models of binge drinking and alcoholism. Translational implications include the identification of novel targets for the development of a more efficient treatment of alcoholism

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-GG)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Logrip, Marian L; Oleata, Christopher; Roberto, Marisa (2017) Sex differences in responses of the basolateral-central amygdala circuit to alcohol, corticosterone and their interaction. Neuropharmacology 114:123-134
Natividad, Luis A; Buczynski, Matthew W; Herman, Melissa A et al. (2017) Constitutive Increases in Amygdalar Corticotropin-Releasing Factor and Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Drive an Anxious Phenotype. Biol Psychiatry 82:500-510
Kimbrough, Adam; de Guglielmo, Giordano; Kononoff, Jenni et al. (2017) CRF1 Receptor-Dependent Increases in Irritability-Like Behavior During Abstinence from Chronic Intermittent Ethanol Vapor Exposure. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 41:1886-1895
Mason, Barbara J (2017) Emerging pharmacotherapies for alcohol use disorder. Neuropharmacology 122:244-253
Luczak, Susan E; Liang, Tiebing; Wall, Tamara L (2017) Age of Drinking Initiation as a Risk Factor for Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms is Moderated by ALDH2*2 and Ethnicity. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 41:1738-1744
Irimia, Cristina; Buczynski, Matthew W; Natividad, Luis A et al. (2017) Dysregulated Glycine Signaling Contributes to Increased Impulsivity during Protracted Alcohol Abstinence. J Neurosci 37:1853-1861
Melroy-Greif, Whitney E; Wilhelmsen, Kirk C; Yehuda, Rachel et al. (2017) Genome-Wide Association Study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Two High-Risk Populations. Twin Res Hum Genet 20:197-207
Varodayan, Florence P; Bajo, Michal; Soni, Neeraj et al. (2017) Chronic alcohol exposure disrupts CB1 regulation of GABAergic transmission in the rat basolateral amygdala. Addict Biol 22:766-778
Roberto, Marisa; Varodayan, Florence P (2017) Synaptic targets: Chronic alcohol actions. Neuropharmacology 122:85-99
Varodayan, Florence P; de Guglielmo, Giordano; Logrip, Marian L et al. (2017) Alcohol Dependence Disrupts Amygdalar L-Type Voltage-Gated Calcium Channel Mechanisms. J Neurosci 37:4593-4603

Showing the most recent 10 out of 184 publications