Cocaine exposure induces plasticity of glutamatergic synapses of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which has been proposed to contribute to its addictive behavior. The mechanisms underlying cocaine-induced plasticity are not fully understood. The orphan glutamate delta-1 (GluD1) receptor is a member of the ionotropic glutamate receptor family but does not function as a typical ligand-gated ion channel. Instead it serves a synaptogenic function by interacting with presynaptic Neurexin protein. Recent neuroanatomical studies have demonstrated enriched expression of GluD1 in the NAc but its role in reward behavior, MSN function, and drug-induced plasticity remains unknown. Using a combination of constitutive and conditional GluD1 KO models, we evaluated the effect of GluD1 ablation on cocaine-conditioned place preference (CPP) and cocaine-induced structural and functional plasticity. GluD1 KO mice showed higher cocaine CPP. Selective ablation of GluD1 from striatal neurons but not cortico-limbic excitatory neurons reproduced higher CPP. Higher cocaine preference in GluD1 KO correlated with an increase in spine density, greater maturation of dendritic spines, and basally upregulated spine-regulating active cofilin. GluD1 loss did not affect basal excitatory neurotransmission or plasticity but masked the generation of cocaine-induced silent synapses. Finally, loss of GluD1 increased the GluN2B subunit contribution to NMDA receptor currents in MSNs and a partial agonist of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors normalized the higher active cofilin and cocaine preference in GluD1 KO mice. Together, these findings demonstrate a critical role of GluD1 in controlling susceptibility to cocaine preference and cocaine-induced plasticity by modulating NMDA receptor subunit contribution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry