The Caenorhabditis elegans dopaminergic system: opportunities for insights into dopamine transport and neurodegeneration.

Nass R, Blakely RD
Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2003 43: 521-44

PMID: 12415122 · DOI:10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.43.100901.135934

The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) plays a central role in the coordination of movement, attention, and the recognition of reward. Loss of DA from the basal ganglia, as a consequence of degeneration of neurons in the substantia nigra, triggers postural instability and Parkinson's disease (PD). DA transporters (DATs) regulate synaptic DA availability and provide a conduit for the uptake of DA mimetic neurotoxins, which can be used to evoke neuronal death and Parkinson-like syndrome. Recently, we have explored the sensitivity of DA neurons in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to the Parkinsonian-inducing neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) and found striking similarities, including DAT dependence, to neurodegeneration observed in mammalian models. In this review, we present our findings in the context of molecular and behavioral dimensions of DA signaling in C. elegans with an eye toward opportunities for uncovering DAT mutants, DAT regulators, and components of toxin-mediated cell death.

MeSH Terms (11)

Animals Biological Transport Caenorhabditis elegans Disease Models, Animal Dopamine Models, Animal Nerve Degeneration Neurons Oxidopamine Parkinsonian Disorders Signal Transduction

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