Alcohol intoxication at early ages is a risk factor for development of addictive behavior. To uncover neuronal molecular correlates of acute ethanol intoxication, we used stable-isotope labeled mice combined with quantitative mass spectrometry to screen over 2000 hippocampal proteins of which 72 changed synaptic abundance up to two-fold after ethanol exposure. Among those were mitochondrial proteins and proteins important for neuronal morphology, including MAP6 and Ankyrin-G. Based on these candidate proteins, we found acute and lasting molecular, cellular, and behavioral changes following a single intoxication in alcohol-naive mice. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed a shortening of axon initial segments. Longitudinal two-photon in vivo imaging showed increased synaptic dynamics and mitochondrial trafficking in axons. Knockdown of mitochondrial trafficking in dopaminergic neurons abolished conditioned alcohol preference in Drosophila. This introduces mitochondrial trafficking as a process implicated in reward learning, and highlights the potential of high-resolution proteomics to identify cellular mechanisms relevant for addictive behavior.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience