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Dopamine (DA) signaling dysfunction is believed to contribute to multiple neuropsychiatric disorders including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The rare DA transporter (DAT) coding substitution Ala559Val found in subjects with ADHD, bipolar disorder and autism, promotes anomalous DA efflux in vitro and, in DAT Val559 mice, leads to increased reactivity to imminent handling, waiting impulsivity, and enhanced motivation for reward. Here, we report that, in contrast to amphetamine and methylphenidate, which induce significant locomotor activation, cocaine administration to these mice elicits no locomotor effects, despite retention of conditioned place preference (CPP). Additionally, cocaine fails to elevate extracellular DA. Given that amphetamine and methylphenidate, unlike cocaine, lack high-affinity interactions with the serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT), we hypothesized that the lack of cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion in DAT Val559 mice arises from SERT blockade and augmented 5-HT signaling relative to cocaine actions on wildtype animals. Consistent with this idea, the SERT blocker fluoxetine abolished methylphenidate-induced locomotor activity in DAT Val559 mice, mimicking the effects seen with cocaine. Additionally, a cocaine analog (RTI-113) with greater selectivity for DAT over SERT retains locomotor activation in DAT Val559 mice. Furthermore, genetic elimination of high-affinity cocaine interactions at SERT in DAT Val559 mice, or specific inhibition of 5-HT receptors in these animals, restored cocaine-induced locomotion, but did not restore cocaine-induced elevations of extracellular DA. Our findings reveal a significant serotonergic plasticity arising in the DAT Val559 model that involves enhanced 5-HT signaling, acting independently of striatal DA release, capable of suppressing the activity of cocaine-sensitive motor circuits.
Negative affect is a core symptom domain associated with an array of neurological and psychiatric disorders and is only partially targeted by current therapies, highlighting the need for better, more targeted treatment options. This study focuses on negative affective symptoms associated with prolonged alcohol abstinence, one of the leading causes of relapse. Using a mouse model of chronic alcohol consumption followed by forced abstinence (CDFA), prolonged alcohol abstinence increased c-fos expression and spontaneous glutamatergic neurotransmission in the dorsal bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (dBNST), a region heavily implicated in negative affect in both humans and rodents. Further, pharmacologically enhancing endogenous cannabinoids (eCB) with JZL184 prevents abstinence-induced increases in dBNST neuronal activity, underscoring the therapeutic potential of drugs targeting the brain's eCB system. Next, we used a channelrhodopsin-assisted mapping strategy to identify excitatory inputs to the dBNST that could contribute to CDFA-induced negative affect. We identified the insular cortex (insula), a region involved in regulating interoception, as a dense, functional, eCB-sensitive input to the dBNST. Using a chemogenetic strategy to locally mimic eCB signaling, we demonstrate that the insula strongly influences the CDFA behavioral phenotype and dBNST neuronal activity. Lastly, we used an anterograde strategy for transynaptic targeting of Cre expression in combination with a G-DREADD to selectively recruit dBNST neurons receiving insula projections. Chemogenetic recruitment of these neurons mimicked behavioral and c-fos responses observed in CDFA. Collectively, this study supports a role for the insula-BNST neural circuit in negative affective disturbances and highlights the therapeutic potential of the eCB system for treating negative affective disorders.
CHIP (carboxyl terminus of heat shock 70-interacting protein) has long been recognized as an active member of the cellular protein quality control system given the ability of CHIP to function as both a co-chaperone and ubiquitin ligase. We discovered a genetic disease, now known as spinocerebellar autosomal recessive 16 (SCAR16), resulting from a coding mutation that caused a loss of CHIP ubiquitin ligase function. The initial mutation describing SCAR16 was a missense mutation in the ubiquitin ligase domain of CHIP (p.T246M). Using multiple biophysical and cellular approaches, we demonstrated that T246M mutation results in structural disorganization and misfolding of the CHIP U-box domain, promoting oligomerization, and increased proteasome-dependent turnover. CHIP-T246M has no ligase activity, but maintains interactions with chaperones and chaperone-related functions. To establish preclinical models of SCAR16, we engineered T246M at the endogenous locus in both mice and rats. Animals homozygous for T246M had both cognitive and motor cerebellar dysfunction distinct from those observed in the CHIP null animal model, as well as deficits in learning and memory, reflective of the cognitive deficits reported in SCAR16 patients. We conclude that the T246M mutation is not equivalent to the total loss of CHIP, supporting the concept that disease-causing CHIP mutations have different biophysical and functional repercussions on CHIP function that may directly correlate to the spectrum of clinical phenotypes observed in SCAR16 patients. Our findings both further expand our basic understanding of CHIP biology and provide meaningful mechanistic insight underlying the molecular drivers of SCAR16 disease pathology, which may be used to inform the development of novel therapeutics for this devastating disease.
The gut-to-brain axis exhibits significant control over motivated behavior. However, mechanisms supporting this communication are poorly understood. We reveal that a gut-based bariatric surgery chronically elevates systemic bile acids and attenuates cocaine-induced elevations in accumbal dopamine. Notably, this surgery reduces reward-related behavior and psychomotor sensitization to cocaine. Utilizing a knockout mouse model, we have determined that a main mediator of these post-operative effects is the Takeda G protein-coupled bile acid receptor (TGR5). Viral restoration of TGR5 in the nucleus accumbens of TGR5 knockout animals is sufficient to restore cocaine reward, centrally localizing this TGR5-mediated modulation. These findings define TGR5 and bile acid signaling as pharmacological targets for the treatment of cocaine abuse and reveal a novel mechanism of gut-to-brain communication.
The mammalian brain undergoes sexual differentiation by gonadal hormones during the perinatal critical period. However, the machinery at earlier stages has not been well studied. We found that Ptf1a is expressed in certain neuroepithelial cells and immature neurons around the third ventricle that give rise to various neurons in several hypothalamic nuclei. We show that conditional Ptf1a-deficient mice (Ptf1a cKO) exhibit abnormalities in sex-biased behaviors and reproductive organs in both sexes. Gonadal hormone administration to gonadectomized animals revealed that the abnormal behavior is caused by disorganized sexual development of the knockout brain. Accordingly, expression of sex-biased genes was severely altered in the cKO hypothalamus. In particular, Kiss1, important for sexual differentiation of the brain, was drastically reduced in the cKO hypothalamus, which may contribute to the observed phenotypes in the Ptf1a cKO. These findings suggest that forebrain Ptf1a is one of the earliest regulators for sexual differentiation of the brain.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Recent studies have demonstrated anxiolytic potential of pharmacological endocannabinoid (eCB) augmentation approaches in a variety of preclinical models. Pharmacological inhibition of endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), elicit promising anxiolytic effects in rodent models with limited adverse behavioral effects, however, the efficacy of dual FAAH/MAGL inhibition has not been investigated. In the present study, we compared the effects of FAAH (PF-3845), MAGL (JZL184) and dual FAAH/MAGL (JZL195) inhibitors on (1) anxiety-like behaviors under non-stressed and stressed conditions, (2) locomotor activity and body temperature, (3) lipid levels in the brain and (4) cognitive functions. Behavioral analysis showed that PF-3845 or JZL184, but not JZL195, was able to prevent restraint stress-induced anxiety in the light-dark box assay when administered before stress exposure. Moreover, JZL195 treatment was not able to reverse foot shock-induced anxiety-like behavior in the elevated zero maze or light-dark box. JZL195, but not PF-3845 or JZL184, decreased body temperature and increased anxiety-like behavior in the open-field test. Overall, JZL195 did not show anxiolytic efficacy and the effects of JZL184 were more robust than that of PF-3845 in the models examined. These results showed that increasing either endogenous AEA or 2-AG separately produces anti-anxiety effects under stressful conditions but the same effects are not obtained from simultaneously increasing both AEA and 2-AG.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is considered a 'circuitopathy', and brain stimulation therapies hold promise for ameliorating MDD symptoms, including hippocampal dysfunction. It is unknown whether stimulation of upstream hippocampal circuitry, such as the entorhinal cortex (Ent), is antidepressive, although Ent stimulation improves learning and memory in mice and humans. Here we show that molecular targeting (Ent-specific knockdown of a psychosocial stress-induced protein) and chemogenetic stimulation of Ent neurons induce antidepressive-like effects in mice. Mechanistically, we show that Ent-stimulation-induced antidepressive-like behavior relies on the generation of new hippocampal neurons. Thus, controlled stimulation of Ent hippocampal afferents is antidepressive via increased hippocampal neurogenesis. These findings emphasize the power and potential of Ent glutamatergic afferent stimulation-previously well-known for its ability to influence learning and memory-for MDD treatment.
Exercise alone is often ineffective for treating obesity despite the associated increase in metabolic requirements. Decreased nonexercise physical activity has been implicated in this resistance to weight loss, but the mechanisms responsible are unclear. We quantified the metabolic cost of nonexercise activity, or "off-wheel" activity (OWA), and voluntary wheel running (VWR) and examined whether changes in OWA during VWR altered energy balance in chow-fed C57BL/6J mice ( = 12). Energy expenditure (EE), energy intake, and behavior (VWR and OWA) were continuously monitored for 4 days with locked running wheels followed by 9 days with unlocked running wheels. Unlocking the running wheels increased EE as a function of VWR distance. The metabolic cost of exercise (kcal/m traveled) decreased with increasing VWR speed. Unlocking the wheel led to a negative energy balance but also decreased OWA, which was predicted to mitigate the expected change in energy balance by ∼45%. A novel behavioral circuit involved repeated bouts of VWR, and roaming was discovered and represented novel predictors of VWR behavior. The integrated analysis described here reveals that the weight loss effects of voluntary exercise can be countered by a reduction in nonexercise activity.
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.
While innate behaviors are conserved throughout the animal kingdom, it is unknown whether common signaling pathways regulate the development of neuronal populations mediating these behaviors in diverse organisms. Here, we demonstrate that the Wnt/ß-catenin effector Lef1 is required for the differentiation of anxiolytic hypothalamic neurons in zebrafish and mice, although the identity of Lef1-dependent genes and neurons differ between these 2 species. We further show that zebrafish and Drosophila have common Lef1-dependent gene expression in their respective neuroendocrine organs, consistent with a conserved pathway that has diverged in the mouse. Finally, orthologs of Lef1-dependent genes from both zebrafish and mouse show highly correlated hypothalamic expression in marmosets and humans, suggesting co-regulation of 2 parallel anxiolytic pathways in primates. These findings demonstrate that during evolution, a transcription factor can act through multiple mechanisms to generate a common behavioral output, and that Lef1 regulates circuit development that is fundamentally important for mediating anxiety in a wide variety of animal species.
Dopaminergic signaling differences in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) seemingly predispose rats to adopt different physical activity behaviors. Physical activity behavior also may be regulated through peripheral mechanisms (i.e., muscle and fat derived as well as hormonal signals). We hypothesize that physical activity behavior is regulated by the convergence of central and peripheral mechanisms onto the NAcc.