Gene Linked To Methamphetamine Addiction Identified

Camron D. Bryant, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Laboratory of Addiction Genetics Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics & Psychiatry Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA 02118

Dr. Camron Bryant Interview with:
Camron D. Bryant, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Laboratory of Addiction Genetics
Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics & Psychiatry
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA 02118 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Bryant: The addictions, including addiction to psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine, are heritable neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the genetic factors underlying these disorders are almost completely unknown. We used an unbiased, discovery-based genetic approach to fine map a novel candidate genetic factor influencing the acute stimulant response to methamphetamine in mice. We then directly validated the causal genetic factor using a gene editing approach. The gene – Hnrnph1 (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein H1) – codes for an RNA binding protein that is involved in alternative splicing of hundreds of genes in the brain. Based on a genome-wide transcriptome analysis of differentially expressed genes within the striatum –  a crucial brain region involved in the stimulant properties of amphetamines – we predict that Hnrnph1 is essential for proper neural development of the dopamine circuitry in the brain. These findings could have implications for understanding not only the addictions but also other neuropsychiatric disordersthat involve perturbations in the dopaminergic circuitry. (e.g., ADHD and schizophrenia) as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bryant: Genome-wide asssociation studies in humans are currently under powered to detect the majority of common and rare genetic variation that influences the addictions and other neuropsychiatric disorders. As researchers continue to increase their sample sizes in human genetic studies, HNRNPH1 may one day be identified as a key polymorphic genetic factor underlying certain neuronal disorders.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bryant: We are currently investigating the contribution of Hnrnph1 to methamphetamine addictive behaviors in mice. Furthermore, because Hnrnph1 is involved in alternative splicing of the mu opioid receptor, we are also investigatingHnrnph1 in opioid behaviors. Finally, because Hnrnph1 is an RNA binding protein, we are developing research tools to identify the direct binding targets of Hnrnph1 with the hope of identifying therapeutic targets for treating methamphetamine addiction – a neuropsychiatric disorder for which there is no FDA-approved drug.


Camron Bryant, PhD et al. Hnrnph1 Is A Quantitative Trait Gene for Methamphetamine Sensitivity. PLOS Genetics, December 2015 DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005713

Camron D. Bryant, Ph.D. (2015). Gene Linked To Methamphetamine Addiction Identified 

1 thought on “Gene Linked To Methamphetamine Addiction Identified

  1. While decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making all drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them. We need to pull LE out of the drug biz & that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis, it is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

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