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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Medical School
Department of Pharmacology

PI: Yan Zeng

MicroRNA Expression in a Rodent Opioid Addiction Model

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a large family of ~22-nucleotide-long RNA molecules that control a variety of important biological processes, such as development, metabolism, cell growth, and cell death. This study investigates how the expression of miRNAs shapes the physiological responses leading to opiate tolerance and dependence in mice. MiRNA microarray analysis was used to compare miRNA expression profiles in specific brain regions of the control mice vs. those of mice that develop morphine dependence and the researcher has discovered miRNAs whose expression is affected by morphine regiment. The next steps are to examine miRNA expression profiles in primary rat hippocampus and cortical neuronal cultures with or without opioid treatment and to compare mRNA changes in these cells to those in mice, then identify targets for these miRNAs in order to provide a fresh angle to study the molecular mechanisms behind drug tolerance and dependence.

Group Member

Xiaoxiao Zhang, Research Associate