An underlying premise of the INIA-Stress consortium is that progression to abusive ethanol consumption is, at least in part, accompanied and perhaps caused by alterations in an organism's response to stress, including the stress of excessive ethanol intake/withdrawal. We propose that changes in brain gene expression networks are an important part of allostatic mechanisms leading to progressive ethanol consumption and aberrant responses to stress. We have previously used genetic and genomic approaches across brain regions of BXD recombinant inbred panel to define robust gene networks regulated by acute ethanol and relate these to ethanol behaviors, particularly regarding responses to stress. We have also identified significant overlap in expression responses to acute ethanol in mice and altered gene expression patterns seen in a primate model of excessive ethanol intake (SIP) developed by Dr. Grant, the PI of the INIA-Stress consortium. Furthermore, very recent pilot array studies in BXD mice exposed to multiple cycles of the chronic intermittent ethanol vapor (CIE) model of excessive ethanol consumption have identified remarkable homology with results from acute ethanol exposure and our data from cynomolgus macaque. Those studies have generated gene networks that allow testing initial major "hub" genes for their possible role in modifying ethanol consumption and response to stress in the CIE model. For example, we recently identified Gsk3p as an important regulator of ethanol consumption and withdrawal-induced anxiety, using AAV viral vector gene delivery studies. Based on these findings, we propose the following Organizing Hypothesis: Altered ethanol drinking and stress/endocrine phenotypes in the mouse CIE and monkey SIP models result from (and cause) adaptive responses in brain gene expression networks, resulting in a new allostatic set point.
The aims of this project will define new gene networks underlying allostatic changes in the CIE and monkey SIP models by expression profiling of CIE treatment across the BXD mouse panel and Rhesus Macaque samples of Dr. Grant (Project 1), co-analysis of results with RNA-Seq data of Dr. Williams'Project 10, and testing of candidates, including Gsk3P, using viral vector gene delivery.
The studies proposed here can identify novel targets for future therapeutic development and contribute to our overall understanding of the neurobiology underlying the interaction between stress and ethanol during the transition to excessive ethanol consumption. Studies on one candidate gene already identified, Gsk3?, hold direct promise for future medication development.
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