C/EBPbeta couples dopamine signalling to substance P precursor gene expression in striatal neurones.
Dopamine-induced changes in striatal gene expression are thought to play an important role in drug addiction and compulsive behaviour. In this study we report that dopamine induces the expression of the transcription factor CCAAT/Enhancer Binding Protein beta (C/EBP)-beta in primary cultures of striatal neurones. We identified the preprotachykinin-A (PPT-A) gene coding for substance P and neurokinin-A as a potential target gene of C/EBPbeta. We demonstrated that C/EBPbeta physically interacts with an element of the PPT-A promoter, thereby facilitating substance P precursor gene transcription. The regulation of PPT-A gene by C/EBPbeta could subserve many important physiological processes involving substance P, such as nociception, neurogenic inflammation and addiction. Given that substance P is known to increase dopamine signalling in the striatum and, in turn, dopamine increases substance P expression in medium spiny neurones, our results implicate C/EBPbeta in a positive feedback loop, changes of which might contribute to the development of drug addiction.