Altered gene expression in frontal cortex and midbrain of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) treated mice: Differential regulation of GABA transporter subtypes
Peng W, Simantov R.
Department of Molecular Genetics,
Weizmann Institute of Science,
Rehovot, Israel.
J Neurosci Res 2003 Apr 15;72(2):250-8


Changes in gene expression were examined in the brain of mice treated with a drug of abuse, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, also called Ecstasy). Frontal cortex and midbrain mRNA, analyzed by differential display polymerase chain reaction (DD-PCR) method, showed an altered expression of several cDNAs, 11 of which were isolated, cloned and sequenced. The sequence of one MDMA-induced mRNA corresponds (99.3%) to the mouse gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) transporter 1 (mGAT1). The established involvement of GABA neurotransmission in the activity of several abused drugs prompted us to focus herein on MDMA effect on the GABA transporter gene family. Semi-quantitative PCR analysis with primers selective to the reported mGAT1 sequence confirmed that MDMA treatment increased mGAT1 expression. Time-course study of the expression of the three GABA transporter subtypes showed that MDMA induced a differential temporal activation of mGAT1 and mGAT4, but had no effect on mGAT2. Quantitative real-time PCR further proved the increased expression of mGAT1 and mGAT4 upon MDMA treatment. Western immunoblotting with anti-GAT1 antibodies showed that MDMA also increased GAT1 protein levels, suggesting that neurotransmission of GABA was altered. MDMA effect was also verified in serotonin transporter knockout (-/-) mice that are insensitive behaviorally to MDMA; the drug did not increase GAT1 protein level in these mutants. In mice, tiagabine and NO-711, inhibitors of GABA transporters, restrained MDMA-induced acute toxicity and death. These results should facilitate novel approaches to prevent deleterious effects, including fatality, induced by MDMA and similar abused psychostimulants.

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