Genes Brain Behav.

2013 Jun 22. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12060.

Been LE, Hedges VL, Vialou V, Nestler EJ, Meisel RL.


University of Minnesota, Department of Neuroscience, 6-145 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA.


Motivated behaviors, including sexual experience, activate the mesolimbic dopamine system and produce long-lasting molecular and structural changes in the nucleus accumbens. The transcription factor ΔFosB is hypothesized to partly mediate this experience-dependent plasticity.

Previous research in our laboratory has demonstrated that overexpressing ΔFosB in the nucleus accumbens of female Syrian hamsters augments the ability of sexual experience to cause the formation of a conditioned place preference. It is unknown, however, whether ΔFosB-mediated transcription in the nucleus accumbens is required for the behavioral consequences of sexual reward.

We therefore used an adeno-associated virus to overexpress ΔJunD, a dominant negative binding partner of ΔFosB that decreases ΔFosB-mediated transcription by competitively heterodimerizing with ΔFosB before binding at promotor regions on target genes, in the nucleus accumbens.

We found that overexpression of ΔJunD prevented the formation of a conditioned place preference following repeated sexual experiences. These data, when coupled with our previous findings, suggest that ∆FosB is both necessary and sufficient for behavioral plasticity following sexual experience. Furthermore, these results contribute to an important and growing body of literature demonstrating the necessity of endogenous ΔFosB expression in the nucleus accumbens for adaptive responding to naturally rewarding stimuli.