FMRP regulates an ethanol-dependent shift in GABA B R function and expression with rapid antidepressant properties

Nat Commun. 2016 Sep 26;7:12867. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12867.


Alcohol promotes lasting neuroadaptive changes that may provide relief from depressive symptoms, often referred to as the self-medication hypothesis. However, the molecular/synaptic pathways that are shared by alcohol and antidepressants are unknown. In the current study, acute exposure to ethanol produced lasting antidepressant and anxiolytic behaviours. To understand the functional basis of these behaviours, we examined a molecular pathway that is activated by rapid antidepressants. Ethanol, like rapid antidepressants, alters γ-aminobutyric acid type B receptor (GABABR) expression and signalling, to increase dendritic calcium. Furthermore, new GABABRs are synthesized in response to ethanol treatment, requiring fragile-X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Ethanol-dependent changes in GABABR expression, dendritic signalling, and antidepressant efficacy are absent in Fmr1-knockout (KO) mice. These findings indicate that FMRP is an important regulator of protein synthesis following alcohol exposure, providing a molecular basis for the antidepressant efficacy of acute ethanol exposure.