An estimated 2 million Americans use cocaine, resulting in large personal and societal costs. Discovery of the genetic factors that contribute to cocaine abuse is important for understanding this complex disease. Previously, mutations in the Drosophila LIM-only (dLmo) gene were identified because of their increased behavioral sensitivity to cocaine. Here we show that the mammalian homolog Lmo4, which is highly expressed in brain regions implicated in drug addiction, plays a similar role in cocaine-induced behaviors. Mice with a global reduction in Lmo4 levels show increased sensitivity to the locomotor stimulatory effects of cocaine upon chronic cocaine administration. This effect is reproduced with downregulation of Lmo4 in the nucleus accumbens by RNA interference. Thus, Lmo genes play conserved roles in regulating the behavioral effects of cocaine in invertebrate and mammalian models of drug addiction.
© 2010 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.