ΔFOSB is a uniquely stable member of the FOS family of immediate early gene AP1 transcription factors. Its accumulation in specific cell types and tissues in response to a range of chronic stimuli is associated with biological phenomena as diverse as memory formation, drug addiction, stress resilience, and immune cell activity. Causal connections between ΔFOSB expression and the physiological and behavioral sequelae of chronic stimuli have been established in rodent and, in some cases, primate models for numerous healthy and pathological states with such preclinical observations often supported by human data demonstrating tissue-specific ΔFOSB expression associated with several specific syndromes. However, the viability of ΔFOSB as a target for therapeutic intervention might be questioned over presumptive concerns of side effects given its expression in such a wide range of cell types and circumstances. Here, we summarize numerous insights from the past three decades of research into ΔFOSB structure, function, mechanisms of induction, and regulation of target genes that support its potential as a druggable target. We pay particular attention to the potential for targeting distinct ΔFOSB isoforms or distinct ΔFOSB-containing multiprotein complexes to achieve cell type or tissue specificity to overcome off-target concerns. We also cover critical gaps in knowledge that currently limit the exploitation of ΔFOSB's therapeutic possibilities and how they may be addressed. Finally, we summarize both current and potential future strategies for generating small molecules or genetic tools for the manipulation of ΔFOSB in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-307
Number of pages12
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2022


  • AP1
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • addiction
  • depression
  • drug design
  • learning and memory
  • protein structure
  • stress
  • transcription


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