Posttranscriptional regulation of BK channel splice variant stability by miR-9 underlies neuroadaptation to alcohol

UMMS Affiliation

Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Department of Psychiatry; Treistman Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience Program; Martin Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Adaptation, Physiological; Animals; Animals, Newborn; Cell Line; Cells, Cultured; Ethanol; Humans; Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium; Channels; MicroRNAs; Neurons; Protein Processing, Post-Translational; RNA Splicing; RNA Stability; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley


Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Tolerance represents a critical component of addiction. The large-conductance calcium- and voltage-activated potassium channel (BK) is a well-established alcohol target, and an important element in behavioral and molecular alcohol tolerance. We tested whether microRNA, a newly discovered class of gene expression regulators, plays a role in the development of tolerance. We show that in adult mammalian brain, alcohol upregulates microRNA miR-9 and mediates posttranscriptional reorganization in BK mRNA splice variants by miR-9-dependent destabilization of BK mRNAs containing 3'UTRs with a miR-9 Recognition Element (MRE). Different splice variants encode BK isoforms with different alcohol sensitivities. Computational modeling indicates that this miR-9-dependent mechanism contributes to alcohol tolerance. Moreover, this mechanism can be extended to include regulation of additional miR-9 targets relevant to alcohol abuse. Our results describe a mechanism of multiplex regulation of stability of alternatively spliced mRNA by microRNA in drug adaptation and neuronal plasticity.

DOI of Published Version



Neuron. 2008 Jul 31;59(2):274-87. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title



Co-author Patricia M. Wynne is a student in the Neuroscience program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMass Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID