Transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of addiction
Alfred J.!Robison and Eric J.!Nestler
Abstract | Investigations of long-term changes in brain structure and function that accompany chronic exposure to drugs of abuse suggest that alterations in gene regulation contribute substantially to the addictive phenotype. Here, we review multiple mechanisms by which drugs alter the transcriptional potential of genes. These mechanisms range from the mobilization or repression of the transcriptional machinery — including the transcription factors “FOSB, cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) and nuclear factor-#B (NF-#B) — to epigenetics — including alterations in the accessibility of genes within their native chromatin structure induced by histone tail modifications and DNA methylation, and the regulation of gene expression by non-coding RNAs. Increasing evidence implicates these various mechanisms of gene regulation in the lasting changes that drugs of abuse induce in the brain, and offers novel inroads for addiction therapy.