Drugs of abuse can modify gene expression in brain reward and motivation centers, which contribute to the structural and functional remodeling of these circuits that impacts the emergence of a state of addiction. Our understanding of how addictive drugs induce transcriptomic plasticity in addiction-relevant brain regions, particularly in the striatum, has increased dramatically in recent years. Intracellular signaling machineries, transcription factors, chromatin modifications, and regulatory noncoding RNAs have all been implicated in the mechanisms through which addictive drugs act in the brain. Here, we briefly summarize some of the molecular mechanisms through which drugs of abuse can exert their transcriptional effects in the brain region, with an emphasis on the role for microRNAs in this process.
- Transcription factor