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Cholinergic regulation of dopaminergic inputs into the striatum is critical for normal basal ganglia (BG) function. This regulation of BG function is thought to be primarily mediated by acetylcholine released from cholinergic interneurons (ChIs) acting locally in the striatum. We now report a combination of pharmacological, electrophysiological, optogenetic, chemogenetic, and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies suggesting extra-striatal cholinergic projections from the pedunculopontine nucleus to the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) act on muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype 4 (M) to oppose cAMP-dependent dopamine receptor subtype 1 (D) signaling in presynaptic terminals of direct pathway striatal spiny projections neurons. This induces a tonic inhibition of transmission at direct pathway synapses and D-mediated activation of motor activity. These studies provide important new insights into the unique role of M in regulating BG function and challenge the prevailing hypothesis of the centrality of striatal ChIs in opposing dopamine regulation of BG output.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Cytochrome P450 46A1 (CYP46A1, cholesterol 24-hydroxylase) is the enzyme responsible for the majority of cholesterol elimination from the brain. Previously, we found that the anti-HIV drug efavirenz (EFV) can pharmacologically activate CYP46A1 in mice. Herein, we investigated whether CYP46A1 could also be activated by endogenous compounds, including major neurotransmitters. experiments with purified recombinant CYP46A1 indicated that CYP46A1 is activated by l-glutamate (l-Glu), l-aspartate, γ-aminobutyric acid, and acetylcholine, with l-Glu eliciting the highest increase (3-fold) in CYP46A1-mediated cholesterol 24-hydroxylation. We also found that l-Glu and other activating neurotransmitters bind to the same site on the CYP46A1 surface, which differs from the EFV-binding site. The other principal differences between EFV and l-Glu in CYP46A1 activation include an apparent lack of l-Glu binding to the P450 active site and different pathways of signal transduction from the allosteric site to the active site. EFV and l-Glu similarly increased the CYP46A1 , the rate of the "fast" phase of the enzyme reduction by the redox partner NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase, and the amount of P450 reduced. Spectral titrations with cholesterol, in the presence of EFV or l-Glu, suggest that water displacement from the heme iron can be affected in activator-bound CYP46A1. Moreover, EFV and l-Glu synergistically activated CYP46A1. Collectively, our data, along with those from previous cell culture and studies by others, suggest that l-Glu-induced CYP46A1 activation is of physiological relevance.
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
The dorsolateral striatum is critically involved in movement control and motor learning. Striatal function is regulated by a variety of neuromodulators including acetylcholine. Previous studies have shown that cholinergic activation excites striatal principal projection neurons, medium spiny neurons (MSNs), and this action is mediated by muscarinic acetylcholine subtype 1 receptors (M) through modulating multiple potassium channels. In the present study, we used electrophysiology techniques in conjunction with optogenetic and pharmacological tools to determine the long-term effects of striatal cholinergic activation on MSN intrinsic excitability. A transient increase in acetylcholine release in the striatum by optogenetic stimulation resulted in a long-lasting increase in excitability of MSNs, which was associated with hyperpolarizing shift of action potential threshold and decrease in afterhyperpolarization (AHP) amplitude, leading to an increase in probability of EPSP-action potential coupling. The M selective antagonist VU0255035 prevented, while the M selective positive allosteric modulator (PAM) VU0453595 potentiated the cholinergic activation-induced persistent increase in MSN intrinsic excitability, suggesting that M receptors are critically involved in the induction of this long-lasting response. This M receptor-dependent long-lasting change in MSN intrinsic excitability could have significant impact on striatal processing and might provide a novel mechanism underlying cholinergic regulation of the striatum-dependent motor learning and cognitive function. Consistent with this, behavioral studies indicate that potentiation of M receptor signaling by VU0453595 enhanced performance of mice in cue-dependent water-based T-maze, a dorsolateral striatum-dependent learning task.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
The efficient import of choline into cholinergic nerve terminals by the presynaptic, high-affinity choline transporter (CHT, SLC5A7) dictates the capacity for acetylcholine (ACh) synthesis and release. Tissue levels of ACh are significantly reduced in mice heterozygous for a loss of function mutation in Slc5a7 (HET, CHT(+/-)), but significantly elevated in overexpressing, Slc5a7 BAC-transgenic mice (BAC). Since the readily-releasable pool of ACh is thought to constitute a small fraction of the total ACh pool, these genotype-dependent changes raised the question as to whether CHT expression or activity might preferentially influence the size of reserve pool ACh vesicles. In the current study, we approached this question by evaluating CHT genotype effects on the release of ACh from suprafused mouse forebrain slices. We treated slices from HET, BAC or wildtype (WT) controls with elevated K(+) and monitored release of both newly synthesized and storage pools of ACh. Newly synthesized ACh produced following uptake of [(3)H]choline was quantified by scintillation spectrometry whereas release of endogenous ACh storage pools was quantified by an HPLC-MS approach, from the same samples. Whereas endogenous ACh release scaled with CHT gene dosage, preloaded [(3)H]ACh release displayed no significant genotype dependence. Our findings suggest that CHT protein levels preferentially impact the capacity for ACh release afforded by mobilization of reserve pool vesicles.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Neural circuits are actively remodeled during brain development, but the molecular mechanisms that trigger circuit refinement are poorly understood. Here, we describe a transcriptional program in C. elegans that regulates expression of an Ig domain protein, OIG-1, to control the timing of synaptic remodeling. DD GABAergic neurons reverse polarity during larval development by exchanging the locations of pre- and postsynaptic components. In newly born larvae, DDs receive cholinergic inputs in the dorsal nerve cord. These inputs are switched to the ventral side by the end of the first larval (L1) stage. VD class GABAergic neurons are generated in the late L1 and are postsynaptic to cholinergic neurons in the dorsal nerve cord but do not remodel. We investigated remodeling of the postsynaptic apparatus in DD and VD neurons using targeted expression of the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) subunit, ACR-12::GFP. We determined that OIG-1 antagonizes the relocation of ACR-12 from the dorsal side in L1 DD neurons. During the L1/L2 transition, OIG-1 is downregulated in DD neurons by the transcription factor IRX-1/Iroquois, allowing the repositioning of synaptic inputs to the ventral side. In VD class neurons, which normally do not remodel, the transcription factor UNC-55/COUP-TF turns off IRX-1, thus maintaining high levels of OIG-1 to block the removal of dorsally located ACR-12 receptors. OIG-1 is secreted from GABA neurons, but its anti-plasticity function is cell autonomous and may not require secretion. Our study provides a novel mechanism by which synaptic remodeling is set in motion through regulated expression of an Ig domain protein.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is part of a Special Issue "Estradiol and Cognition". While many studies in humans have investigated the effects of estrogen and hormone therapy on cognition, potential neurobiological correlates of these effects have been less well studied. An important site of action for estrogen in the brain is the cholinergic system. Several decades of research support the critical role of CNS cholinergic systems in cognition in humans, particularly in learning and memory formation and attention. In humans, the cholinergic system has been implicated in many aspects of cognition including the partitioning of attentional resources, working memory, inhibition of irrelevant information, and improved performance on effort-demanding tasks. Studies support the hypothesis that estradiol helps to maintain aspects of attention and verbal and visual memory. Such cognitive domains are exactly those modulated by cholinergic systems and extensive basic and preclinical work over the past several decades has clearly shown that basal forebrain cholinergic systems are dependent on estradiol support for adequate functioning. This paper will review recent human studies from our laboratories and others that have extended preclinical research examining estrogen-cholinergic interactions to humans. Studies examined include estradiol and cholinergic antagonist reversal studies in normal older women, examinations of the neural representations of estrogen-cholinergic interactions using functional brain imaging, and studies of the ability of selective estrogen receptor modulators such as tamoxifen to interact with cholinergic-mediated cognitive performance. We also discuss the implications of these studies for the underlying hypotheses of cholinergic-estrogen interactions and cognitive aging, and indications for prophylactic and therapeutic potential that may exploit these effects.
Published by Elsevier Inc.
The hemicholinium-3 (HC-3) sensitive, high-affinity choline transporter (CHT) sustains cholinergic signaling via the presynaptic uptake of choline derived from dietary sources or from acetylcholinesterase (AChE)-mediated hydrolysis of acetylcholine (ACh). Loss of cholinergic signaling capacity is associated with cognitive and motor deficits in humans and in animal models. Whereas genetic elimination of CHT has revealed the critical nature of CHT in maintaining ACh stores and sustaining cholinergic signaling, the consequences of elevating CHT expression have yet to be studied. Using bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-mediated transgenic methods, we generated mice with integrated additional copies of the mouse Slc5a7 gene. BAC-CHT mice are viable, appear to develop normally, and breed at wild-type (WT) rates. Biochemical studies revealed a 2 to 3-fold elevation in CHT protein levels in the CNS and periphery, paralleled by significant increases in [(3)H]HC-3 binding and synaptosomal choline transport activity. Elevations of ACh in the BAC-CHT mice occurred without compensatory changes in the activity of either choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) or AChE. Immunohistochemistry for CHT in BAC-CHT brain sections revealed markedly elevated CHT expression in the cell bodies of cholinergic neurons and in axons projecting to regions known to receive cholinergic innervation. Behaviorally, BAC-CHT mice exhibited diminished fatigue and increased speeds on the treadmill test without evidence of increased strength. Finally, BAC-CHT mice displayed elevated horizontal activity in the open field test, diminished spontaneous alteration in the Y-maze, and reduced time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze. Together, these studies provide biochemical, pharmacological and behavioral evidence that CHT protein expression and activity can be elevated beyond that seen in wild-type animals. BAC-CHT mice thus represent a novel tool to examine both the positive and negative impact of constitutively elevated cholinergic signaling capacity.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Reductions in the capacity of the human choline transporter (SLC5A7, CHT) have been hypothesized to diminish cortical cholinergic neurotransmission, leading to risk for cognitive and mood disorders. To determine the acetylcholine (ACh) release capacity of cortical cholinergic projections in a mouse model of cholinergic hypofunction, the CHT+/- mouse, we assessed extracellular ACh levels while mice performed an operant sustained attention task (SAT). We found that whereas SAT-performance-associated increases in extracellular ACh levels of CHT+/- mice were significantly attenuated relative to wildtype littermates, performance on the SAT was normal. Tetrodotoxin-induced blockade of neuronal excitability reduced both dialysate ACh levels and SAT performance similarly in both genotypes. Likewise, lesions of cholinergic neurons abolished SAT performance in both genotypes. However, cholinergic activation remained more vulnerable to the reverse-dialyzed muscarinic antagonist atropine in CHT+/- mice. Additionally, CHT+/- mice displayed greater SAT-disrupting effects of reverse dialysis of the nAChR antagonist mecamylamine. Receptor binding assays revealed a higher density of α4β2* nAChRs in the cortex of CHT+/- mice compared to controls. These findings reveal compensatory mechanisms that, in the context of moderate cognitive challenges, can overcome the performance deficits expected from the significantly reduced ACh capacity of CHT+/- cholinergic terminals. Further analyses of molecular and functional compensations in the CHT+/- model may provide insights into both risk and resiliency factors involved in cognitive and mood disorders.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Change in the timeline of neurobiological growth is an important source of biological variation, and thus phenotypic evolution. However, no study has to date investigated sensory system development in any of the prosimian primates that are thought to most closely resemble our earliest primate ancestors. Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter critical to normal brain function by regulating synaptic plasticity associated with attention and learning. Myelination is an important structural component of the brain because it facilitates rapid neuronal communication. In this work we investigated the expression of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and the density of myelinated axons throughout postnatal development in the inferior colliculus (IC), medial geniculate complex (MGC), and auditory cortex (auditory core, belt, and parabelt) in Garnett's greater galago (Otolemur garnetti). We found that the IC and MGC exhibit relatively high myelinated fiber length density (MFLD) values at birth and attain adult-like values by the species-typical age at weaning. In contrast, neocortical auditory fields are relatively unmyelinated at birth and only attain adult-like MFLD values by the species-typical age at puberty. Analysis of AChE expression indicated that, in contrast to evidence from rodent samples, the adult-like distribution of AChE in the core area of auditory cortex, dense bands in layers I, IIIb/IV, and Vb/VI, is present at birth. These data indicate the differential developmental trajectory of central auditory system structures and demonstrate the early onset of adult-like AChE expression in primary auditory cortex in O. garnetti, suggesting the auditory system is more developed at birth in primates compared to rodents.
Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Functional variation in the gene encoding the presynaptic choline transporter (CHT) has been linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Here, we report that a heterozygous deletion in the CHT gene in mice (CHT(+/-)) limits the capacity of cholinergic neurons to sustain acetylcholine (ACh) release and attentional performance. Cortical microdialysis and amperometric methods revealed that, whereas wild-type and CHT(+/-) animals support equivalent basal ACh release and choline clearance, CHT(+/-) animals exhibit a significant inability to elevate extracellular ACh following basal forebrain stimulation, in parallel with a diminished choline clearance capacity following cessation of stimulation. Consistent with these findings, the density of CHTs in cortical synaptosomal plasma membrane-enriched fractions from unstimulated CHT(+/-) animals matched those observed in wild-type animals despite reductions in CHT levels in total extracts, achieved via a redistribution of CHT from vesicle pools. As a consequence, in CHT(+/-) animals, basal forebrain stimulation was unable to mobilize wild-type quantities of CHT to the plasma membrane. In behavioral studies, CHT(+/-) mice were impaired in performing a sustained attention task known to depend on cortical cholinergic activity. In wild-type mice, but not CHT(+/-) mice, attentional performance increased the density of CHTs in the synaptosomal membrane in the right frontal cortex. Basal CHT levels in vesicle-enriched membranes predicted the degree of CHT mobilization as well as individual variations in performance on the sustained attention task. Our findings demonstrate biochemical and physiological alterations that underlie cognitive impairments associated with genetically imposed reductions in choline uptake capacity.