The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a critical component of a cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loop regulating limbic and cognitive functions. Within this circuit, two distinct nucleus accumbens (NAc) output neuron types, dopamine D1 or D2 receptor-expressing neurons, dynamically control the flow of information through basal ganglia nuclei that eventually project back to the mPFC to complete the loop. Thus, chronic dysfunction of the NAc may result in mPFC transcriptomal changes, which in turn contribute to disease conditions associated with the mPFC and basal ganglia. Here, we used RNA sequencing to analyse differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the mPFC following a reversible neurotransmission blocking technique in D1 or D2 receptor-expressing NAc neurons, respectively (D1-RNB, or D2-RNB). Gene Set Enrichment Analysis revealed that gene sets of layer 5b and 6 pyramidal neurons were enriched in DEGs of the mPFC downregulated in both NAc D1- and D2-RNB mice. In contrast, gene sets of layer 5a pyramidal neurons were enriched in upregulated DEGs of the mPFC in D1-RNB mice, and downregulated DEGs of the mPFC in D2-RNB mice. These findings reveal for the first time that NAc output pathways play an important role in controlling mPFC gene expression.
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