Cocaine-conditioned locomotion in dopamine transporter, norepinephrine transporter and 5-HT transporter knockout mice

F. S. Hall, X. F. Li, J. Randall-Thompson, I. Sora, D. L. Murphy, K. P. Lesch, M. Caron, G. R. Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The behavioral effects of cocaine are affected by gene knockout (KO) of the dopamine transporter (DAT), the serotonin transporter (SERT) and the norepinephrine transporter (NET). The relative involvement of each of these transporters varies depending on the particular behavioral response to cocaine considered, as well as on other factors such as genetic background of the subjects. Interestingly, the effects of these gene knockouts on cocaine-induced locomotion are quite different from those on reward assessed in the conditioned place preference paradigm. To further explore the role of these genes in the rewarding effects of cocaine, the ability of five daily injections of cocaine to induce conditioned locomotion was assessed in DAT, SERT and NET KO mice. Cocaine increased locomotor activity acutely during the initial conditioning session in SERT KO and NET KO, but not DAT KO, mice. Surprisingly, locomotor responses in the cocaine-paired subjects diminished over the five conditioning sessions in SERT KO mice, while locomotor responses increased in DAT KO mice, despite the fact that they did not demonstrate any initial locomotor responses to cocaine. Cocaine-induced locomotion was unchanged over the course of conditioning in NET KO mice. In the post-conditioning assessment, conditioned locomotion was not observed in DAT KO mice, and was reduced in SERT KO and NET KO mice. These data reaffirm the central role of dopamine and DAT in the behavioral effects of cocaine. Furthermore, they emphasize the polygenic basis of cocaine-mediated behavior and the non-unitary nature of drug reward mechanisms, particularly in the context of previous studies that have shown normal cocaine-conditioned place preference in DAT KO mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-880
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • cocaine
  • conditioned locomotion
  • dopamine transporter
  • norepinephrine transporter
  • serotonin transporter
  • transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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