Drug addiction develops due to brain-wide plasticity within neuronal ensembles, mediated by dynamic gene expression. Though the most common approach to identify such ensembles relies on immediate early gene expression, little is known of how the activity of these genes is linked to modified behavior observed following repeated drug exposure. To address this gap, we present a broad-to-specific approach, beginning with a comprehensive investigation of brain-wide cocaine-driven gene expression, through the description of dynamic spatial patterns of gene induction in subregions of the striatum, and finally address functionality of region-specific gene induction in the development of cocaine preference. Our findings reveal differential cell-type specific dynamic transcriptional recruitment patterns within two subdomains of the dorsal striatum following repeated cocaine exposure. Furthermore, we demonstrate that induction of the IEG Egr2 in the ventrolateral striatum, as well as the cells within which it is expressed, are required for the development of cocaine seeking.
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- Cocaine sensitization
- Conditioned-place preference
- Reward circuit
- Spatial transcriptomics
- Spiny projection neurons
- Ventrolateral striatum