The circadian gene Nr1d1 in the mouse nucleus accumbens modulates sociability and anxiety-related behavior

C Zhao, SC Gammie
European Journal of Neuroscience, 2018

Nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group D, member 1 (Nr1d1) (also known as Rev-erb alpha) has been linked to circadian rhythm regulation, mood-related behavior, and disorders associated with social deficits. Recent work from our laboratory found striking decreases in Nr1d1 in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in the maternal condition and indirect evidence that Nr1d1 was interacting with numerous addiction and reward-related genes to modulate social reward. In this study, we applied our insights from the maternal state to non-parental adult mice to determine whether decreases in Nr1d1 expression in the NAc via adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors and short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated gene knockdown were sufficient to modulate social behaviors and mood-related behaviors. Knockdown of Nr1d1 in the NAc enhanced sociability, reduced anxiety, but did not affect depressive-like traits in female mice. In male mice, Nr1d1 knockdown had no significant behavioral effects. Microarray analysis of Nr1d1 knockdown in females identified changes in circadian rhythm and histone deacetylase genes and suggested possible drugs, including histone deacetylase inhibitors, that could mimic actions of Nr1d1 knockdown. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis confirmed expression upregulation of genes period circadian clock 1 (Per1) and period circadian clock 2 (Per2) with Nr1d1 knockdown. Evidence for roles for opioid-related genes opioid receptor, delta 1 (Oprd1) and preproenkephalin (Penk) was also found. Together, these results suggest that Nr1d1 in the NAc modulates sociability and anxiety-related behavior in a sex-specific manner and circadian, histone deacetylase, and opioid-related genes may be involved in the expression of these behavioral phenotypes.

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European Journal of Neuroscience
University of Wisconsin-Madison