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Neuroscience. 2002;110(3):421-9.

Differences in expression, actions and cocaine regulation of two isoforms for the brain transcriptional regulator NAC1.

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Department of Medicine and Psychiatry, Medical Research Service, Philadelphia VAMC, PA 19104, USA.


BTB/POZ proteins can influence the cell cycle and contribute to oncogenesis. Many family members are present in the mammalian CNS. Previous work demonstrated elevated NAC1 mRNA levels in the rat nucleus accumbens in response to cocaine. NAC1 acts like other BTB/POZ proteins that regulate transcription but is unusual because of the absence of identifiable DNA binding domains. cDNAs were isolated encoding two NAC1 isoforms differing by only 27 amino acids (the longer isoform contains 514 amino acids). The mRNAs for both isoforms were simultaneously expressed throughout the rat brain and peripheral tissues. Semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that the mRNA of the longer isoform was more abundant than the mRNA of the shorter isoform. Western blot analysis demonstrated a similar unequal distribution between the isoforms in the CNS. The longer isoform was the more abundant of the two NAC1 proteins and the ratio between them differed throughout the rat brain. The shorter isoform was not detected in most of the examined peripheral tissues, suggesting differences from the CNS in post-transcriptional processing. Both isoforms repressed transcription in H293T cells using a Gal4-luciferase reporter system. However, the shorter isoform did not repress transcription as effectively as the longer isoform. Transfection of different ratios for both isoforms, in order to replicate the relative amounts observed throughout the CNS, supported an interaction between the isoforms. The net effect on transcriptional repression was determined by the ratio of the two NAC1 isoforms. Each isoform exhibited the subnuclear localization that is characteristic of many BTB/POZ proteins. A rapid and transient increase in the level of the shorter isoform occurred in the nucleus accumbens 2 h following a single i.p. cocaine injection. We conclude that the two isoforms of NAC1 may differentially affect neuronal functions, including the regulation of cocaine-induced locomotion.

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