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Neuron. 2013 Oct 2;80(1):159-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.019. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Repeated cocaine weakens GABA(B)-Girk signaling in layer 5/6 pyramidal neurons in the prelimbic cortex.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Repeated cocaine exposure triggers adaptations in layer 5/6 glutamatergic neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that promote behavioral sensitization and drug-seeking behavior. While suppression of metabotropic inhibitory signaling has been implicated in these behaviors, underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here, we show that Girk/K(IR)3 channels mediate most of the GABA(B) receptor (GABA(B)R)-dependent inhibition of layer 5/6 pyramidal neurons in the mPFC and that repeated cocaine suppresses this pathway. This adaptation was selective for GABA(B)R-dependent Girk signaling in layer 5/6 pyramidal neurons of the prelimbic cortex (PrLC) and involved a D₁/₅ dopamine receptor- and phosphorylation-dependent internalization of GABA(B)R and Girk channels. Persistent suppression of Girk signaling in layer 5/6 of the dorsal mPFC enhanced cocaine-induced locomotor activity and occluded behavioral sensitization. Thus, the cocaine-induced suppression of GABA(B)R-Girk signaling in layer 5/6 pyramidal neurons of the prelimbic cortex appears to represent an early adaptation critical for promoting addiction-related behavior.

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