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Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023

2024 Dec





Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure-induced m6A modifications around mRNA stop codons of opioid receptor genes.


Liu Y, Koo JS, Zhang H


Chronic alcohol consumption may alter mRNA methylation and expression levels of genes related to addiction and reward in the brain, potentially contributing to alcohol tolerance and dependence. Neuron-like (SH-SY5Y) and non-neuronal (SW620) cells were utilized as models to examine chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure-induced global m6A RNA methylation changes, as well as m6A mRNA methylation changes around the stop codon of three opioid receptor genes (, , and ), which are known to regulate pain, reward, and addiction behaviours. CIE exposure for three weeks significantly increased global RNA methylation levels in both SH-SY5Y ( = 3.98,  = 0.007) and SW620 ( = 2.24,  = 0.067) cells. However, a 3-week CIE exposure resulted in hypomethylation around mRNA stop codon regions of and in both cell lines [:  = -5.05,  = 0.0005; :  = -3.19,  = 0.013; :  = -13.43,  < 0.00001; :  = -4.00,  = 0.003]. Additionally, mRNA expression levels of , , and were downregulated (corresponding to mRNA hypomethylation) in both SH-SY5Y and SW620 cells after a 3-week CIE exposure. The present study demonstrated that chronic ethanol exposure altered global RNA methylation levels, as well as mRNA methylation and expression levels of opioid receptor genes in both neuron-like and non-neuronal cells. Our findings suggest a potential epitranscriptomic mechanism by which chronic alcohol consumption remodels the expression of reward-related and alcohol responsive genes in the brain, thus increasing the risk of alcohol use disorder development.: : the μ-opioid receptor; : the δ-opioid receptor; : the κ-opioid receptor; CIE: chronic intermittent ethanol exposure; CIE+WD: chronic intermittent ethanol exposure followed by a 24-hr withdrawal; SH-SY5Y: human neuroblastoma cell Line; SW620: human colon carcinoma cell line; RT-qPCR: reverse transcription followed by quantitative polymerase reaction; MazF-RT-qPCR: MazF digestion followed by RT-qPCR.