Cocaine-conditioned memory has been known to cause cocaine craving and relapse, while its underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We explored accumbal protein candidates responsible for a cocaine-conditioned memory, cocaine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP). Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis in conjunction with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis was utilized to identify accumbal protein candidates involved in the retrieval of cocaine-induced CPP. Among the identified candidate proteins, a downregulated 14-3-3ζ protein was chosen and confirmed by Western immunoblotting. A polymer-mediated plasmid DNA delivery system was then used to overexpress 14-3-3 protein in mouse nucleus accumbens before the CPP retrieval tests. Overexpression of accumbal 14-3-3ζ protein was found to diminish conditioned cue/context-mediated cocaine-induced CPP. In contrast, another isoform of 14-3-3 protein, 14-3-3ε protein, did not affect conditioned cue/context-mediated cocaine-induced CPP. Overexpression of accumbal 14-3-3ζ protein did not produce motor activity-impairing effect or alter local dopamine metabolism. Moreover, overexpression of accumbal 14-3-3ζ protein did not affect food-induced CPP. These results, taken together, indicated that overexpressed accumbal 14-3-3ζ protein specifically decreased conditioned cue/context-mediated cocaine memory. Further understanding of the function of accumbal 14-3-3ζ protein may shed light on the treatment of cocaine craving and relapse.
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