Inherent Motor Impulsivity Associates with Specific Gene Targets in the Rat Medial Prefrontal Cortex

Dennis J. Sholler, Christina R. Merritt, Brionna D. Davis-Reyes, George Golovko, Noelle C. Anastasio, Kathryn A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


High impulsivity characterizes a myriad of neuropsychiatric diseases, and identifying targets for neuropharmacological intervention to reduce impulsivity could reveal transdiagnostic treatment strategies. Motor impulsivity (impulsive action) reflects in part the failure of “top-down” executive control by the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The present study profiled the complete set of mRNA molecules expressed from genes (transcriptome) in the mPFC of male, outbred rats stably expressing high (HI) or low (LI) motor impulsivity based upon premature responses in the 1-choice serial reaction time (1-CSRT) task. RNA-sequencing identified expression of 18 genes that was higher in the mPFC of HI vs. LI rats. Functional gene enrichment revealed that biological processes related to calcium homeostasis and G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling pathways, particularly glutamatergic, were overrepresented in the mPFC of HI vs. LI rats. Transcription factor enrichment identified mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 4 (SMAD4) and RE1 silencing transcription factor (REST) as overrepresented in the mPFC of HI rats relative to LI rats, while in silico analysis predicted a conserved SMAD binding site within the voltage-gated calcium channel subunit alpha1 E (CACNA1E) promoter region. qRT-PCR analyses confirmed that mRNA expression of CACNA1E, as well as expression of leucyl and cystinyl aminopeptidase (LNPEP), were higher in the mPFC of HI vs. LI rats. These outcomes establish a transcriptomic landscape in the mPFC that is related to individual differences in motor impulsivity and propose novel gene targets for future impulsivity research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
StatePublished - May 21 2020


  • RNA-sequencing
  • choice serial reaction time
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • motor impulsivity
  • transcriptomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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