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Complex circuit interactions within the nucleus accumbens (NAc) facilitate goal-directed behavior. Medium spiny neurons (MSNs) mediate NAc output by projecting to functionally divergent brain regions, a property conferred, in part, by the differential projection patterns of D1- and D2 dopamine receptor-expressing MSNs. Glutamatergic afferents to the NAc direct MSN output by recruiting feedforward inhibitory microcircuits comprised of parvalbumin (PV)-expressing interneurons (INs). Furthermore, the GABA heteroreceptor (GABAR), a G-coupled G-protein-coupled receptor, is expressed at glutamatergic synapses throughout the mesolimbic network, yet its physiological context and synaptic mechanism within the NAc remains unknown. Here, we explored GABAR function at glutamatergic synapses within PV-IN-embedded microcircuits in the NAc core of male mice. We found that GABAR is expressed presynaptically and recruits a noncanonical signaling mechanism to reduce glutamatergic synaptic efficacy at D1(+) and D1(-) (putative D2) MSN subtypes. Furthermore, PV-INs, a robust source of neuronal GABA in the NAc, heterosynaptically target GABAR to selectively modulate glutamatergic transmission onto D1(+) MSNs. These findings elucidate a new mechanism of feedforward inhibition and refine mechanisms by which GABA heteroreceptors modulate mesolimbic circuit function. Glutamatergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) critically contributes to goal-directed behaviors. However, intrinsic microcircuit mechanisms governing the integration of these synapses remain largely unknown. Here, we show that parvalbumin-expressing interneurons within feedforward microcircuits heterosynaptically target GABA heteroreceptors (GABAR) on glutamate terminals. Activation of presynaptically-expressed GABAR decreases glutamatergic synaptic strength by engaging a non-canonical signaling pathway that interferes with vesicular exocytotic release machinery. These findings offer mechanistic insight into the role of GABA heteroreceptors within reward circuitry, elucidate a novel arm to feedforward inhibitory networks, and inform the growing use of GABAR-selective pharmacotherapy for various motivational disorders, including addiction, major depressive disorder, and autism (Cousins et al., 2002; Kahn et al., 2009; Jacobson et al., 2018; Stoppel et al., 2018; Pisansky et al., 2019).
Copyright © 2019 the authors.
The translocator protein (TSPO), previously known as the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), is a membrane protein located on the outer mitochondrial membrane. Experimentally-derived structures of mouse TSPO (mTSPO) and its homologs from bacterial species have been determined by NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, respectively. These structures and ligand interactions within the TSPO binding pocket display distinct differences. Here, we leverage experimental and computational studies to derive a unified structural model of mTSPO in the presence and absence of the TSPO ligand, PK11195, and study the effects of DPC detergent micelles on the TSPO structure and ligand binding. From this work, we conclude that that the lipid-mimetic system used to solubilize mTSPO for NMR studies thermodynamically destabilizes the protein, introduces structural perturbations, and alters the characteristics of ligand binding. Furthermore, we used Rosetta to construct a unified mTSPO model that reconciles deviating features of the mammalian and bacterial TSPO. These deviating features are likely a consequence of the detergent system used for structure determination of mTSPO by NMR. The unified mTSPO model agrees with available experimental NMR data, appears to be physically realistic (i.e. thermodynamically not frustrated as judged by the Rosetta energy function), and simultaneously shares the structural features observed in sequence-conserved regions of the bacterial proteins. Finally, we identified the binding site for an imaging ligand VUIIS8310 that is currently positioned for clinical translation using NMR spectroscopy and propose a computational model of the VUIIS8310-mTSPO complex.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the deadliest form of breast cancer because it is more aggressive, diagnosed at later stage and more likely to develop local and systemic recurrence. Many patients do not experience adequate tumor control after current clinical treatments involving surgical removal, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, leading to disease progression and significantly decreased quality of life. Here we report a new combinatory therapy strategy involving cannabinoid-based medicine and photodynamic therapy (PDT) for the treatment of TNBC. This combinatory therapy targets two proteins upregulated in TNBC: the cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CBR, a G-protein coupled receptor) and translocator protein (TSPO, a mitochondria membrane receptor). We found that the combined CBR agonist and TSPO-PDT treatment resulted in synergistic inhibition in TNBC cell and tumor growth. This combinatory therapy approach provides new opportunities to treat TNBC with high efficacy. In addition, this study provides new evidence on the therapeutic potential of CBR agonists for cancer.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Debilitating perceptual disorders including tinnitus, hyperacusis, phantom limb pain and visual release hallucinations may reflect aberrant patterns of neural activity in central sensory pathways following a loss of peripheral sensory input. Here, we explore short- and long-term changes in gene expression that may contribute to hyperexcitability following a sudden, profound loss of auditory input from one ear. We used fluorescence in situ hybridization to quantify mRNA levels for genes encoding AMPA and GABA receptor subunits (Gria2 and Gabra1, respectively) in single neurons from the inferior colliculus (IC) and auditory cortex (ACtx). Thirty days after unilateral hearing loss, Gria2 levels were significantly increased while Gabra1 levels were significantly decreased. Transcriptional rebalancing was more pronounced in ACtx than IC and bore no obvious relationship to the degree of hearing loss. By contrast to the opposing, synergistic shifts in Gria2 and Gabra1 observed 30 days after hearing loss, we found that transcription levels for both genes were equivalently reduced after 5 days of hearing loss, producing no net change in the excitatory/inhibitory transcriptional balance. Opposing transcriptional shifts in AMPA and GABA receptor genes that emerge several weeks after a peripheral insult could promote both sensitization and disinhibition to support a homeostatic recovery of neural activity following auditory deprivation. Imprecise transcriptional changes could also drive the system toward perceptual hypersensitivity, degraded temporal processing and the irrepressible perception of non-existent environmental stimuli, a trio of perceptual impairments that often accompany chronic sensory deprivation.
Copyright © 2018 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Translocator Protein (18 kDa, TSPO) is regarded as a useful biomarker for neuroinflammation imaging. TSPO PET imaging could be used to understand the role of neuroinflammation in brain diseases and as a tool for evaluating novel therapeutic effects. As a promising TSPO probe, [F]DPA-714 is highly specific and offers reliable quantification of TSPO in vivo. In this study, we further radiosynthesized and evaluated another novel TSPO probe, 2-(7-butyl-2-(4-(2-[F]fluoroethoxy)phenyl)-5-methylpyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl)-N,N-diethylacetamide ([F]VUIIS1018A), which features a 700-fold higher binding affinity for TSPO than that of [F]DPA-714. We evaluated the performance of [F]VUIIS1018A using dynamic in vivo PET imaging, radiometabolite analysis, in vitro autoradiography assays, biodistribution analysis, and blocking assays. In vivo study using this probe demonstrated high signal-to-noise ratio, binding potential (BP), and binding specificity in preclinical neuroinflammation studies. Taken together, these findings indicate that [F]VUIIS1018A may serve as a novel TSPO PET probe for neuroinflammation imaging.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
Dravet syndrome is an infant-onset epileptic encephalopathy with multiple seizure types that are often refractory to conventional therapies. Treatment with standard benzodiazepines like clobazam, in combination with valproate and stiripentol, provides only modest seizure control. While benzodiazepines are a first-line therapy for Dravet syndrome, they are limited by their ability to only modulate synaptic receptors. Unlike benzodiazepines, neuroactive steroids potentiate a wider-range of GABA receptors. The synthetic neuroactive steroid SGE-516 is a potent positive allosteric modulator of both synaptic and extrasynaptic GABA receptors. Prior work demonstrated anticonvulsant activity of SGE-516 in acute seizure assays in rodents. In this study, we evaluated activity of SGE-516 on epilepsy phenotypes in the Scn1a mouse model that recapitulates many features of Dravet syndrome, including spontaneous seizures, premature death and seizures triggered by hyperthermia. To evaluate SGE-516 in Scn1a mice, we determined the effect of treatment on hyperthermia-induced seizures, spontaneous seizure frequency and survival. SGE-516 treatment protected against hyperthermia-induced seizures, reduced spontaneous seizure frequency and prolonged survival in the Scn1a mice. This provides the first evidence of SGE-516 activity in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, and supports further investigation of neuroactive steroids as potential anticonvulsant compounds for refractory epilepsies.
PURPOSE - The identification and targeting of biomarkers specific to prostate cancer (PCa) could improve its detection. Given the high expression of translocator protein (TSPO) in PCa, we investigated the use of [F]VUIIS1008 (a novel TSPO-targeting radioligand) coupled with positron emission tomography (PET) to identify PCa in mice and to characterize their TSPO uptake.
PROCEDURES - Pten, Trp53 prostate cancer-bearing mice (n = 9, 4-6 months old) were imaged in a 7T MRI scanner for lesion localization. Within 24 h, the mice were imaged using a microPET scanner for 60 min in dynamic mode following a retro-orbital injection of ~ 18 MBq [F]VUIIS1008. Following imaging, tumors were harvested and stained with a TSPO antibody. Regions of interest (ROIs) were drawn around the tumor and muscle (hind limb) in the PET images. Time-activity curves (TACs) were recorded over the duration of the scan for each ROI. The mean activity concentrations between 40 and 60 min post radiotracer administration between tumor and muscle were compared.
RESULTS - Tumor presence was confirmed by visual inspection of the MR images. The uptake of [F]VUIIS1008 in the tumors was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than that in the muscle, where the percent injected dose per unit volume for tumor was 7.1 ± 1.6 % ID/ml and that of muscle was < 1 % ID/ml. In addition, positive TSPO expression was observed in tumor tissue analysis.
CONCLUSIONS - The foregoing preliminary data suggest that TSPO may be a useful biomarker of PCa. Therefore, using TSPO-targeting PET ligands, such as [F]VUIIS1008, may improve PCa detectability and characterization.
OBJECTIVE - The mutant γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA ) receptor γ2(Q390X) subunit (Q351X in the mature peptide) has been associated with the epileptic encephalopathy, Dravet syndrome, and the epilepsy syndrome genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+). The mutation generates a premature stop codon that results in translation of a stable truncated and misfolded γ2 subunit that accumulates in neurons, forms intracellular aggregates, disrupts incorporation of γ2 subunits into GABA receptors, and affects trafficking of partnering α and β subunits. Heterozygous Gabrg2 knock-in (KI) mice had reduced cortical inhibition, spike wave discharges on electroencephalography (EEG), a lower seizure threshold to the convulsant drug pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), and spontaneous generalized tonic-clonic seizures. In this proof-of-principal study, we attempted to rescue these deficits in KI mice using a γ2 subunit gene (GABRG2) replacement therapy.
METHODS - We introduced the GABRG2 allele by crossing Gabrg2 KI mice with bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice overexpressing HA (hemagglutinin)-tagged human γ2 subunits, and compared GABA receptor subunit expression by Western blot and immunohistochemical staining, seizure threshold by monitoring mouse behavior after PTZ-injection, and thalamocortical inhibition and network oscillation by slice recording.
RESULTS - Compared to KI mice, adult mice carrying both mutant allele and transgene had increased wild-type γ2 and partnering α1 and β2/3 subunits, increased miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current (mIPSC) amplitudes recorded from layer VI cortical neurons, reduced thalamocortical network oscillations, and higher PTZ seizure threshold.
SIGNIFICANCE - Based on these results we suggest that seizures in a genetic epilepsy syndrome caused by epilepsy mutant γ2(Q390X) subunits with dominant negative effects could be rescued potentially by overexpression of wild-type γ2 subunits.
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2017 International League Against Epilepsy.
We identified a missense mutation, P302L, in the γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA) receptor γ2 subunit gene in a patient with Dravet syndrome using targeted next-generation sequencing. The mutation was in the cytoplasmic portion of the transmembrane segment M2 of the γ2 subunit that faces the pore lumen. GABA receptor α1 and β3 subunits were coexpressed with wild-type (wt) γ2L or mutant γ2L(P302L) subunits in HEK 293T cells and cultured mouse cortical neurons. We measured currents using whole-cell and single-channel patch clamp techniques, surface and total expression levels using surface biotinylation and Western blotting, and potential structural perturbations in mutant GABA receptors using structural modeling. The γ2(P302L) subunit mutation produced an ∼90% reduction of whole-cell current by increasing macroscopic desensitization and reducing GABA potency, which resulted in a profound reduction of GABA receptor-mediated miniature IPSCs (mIPSCs). The conductance of the receptor channel was reduced to 24% of control conductance by shifting the relative contribution of the conductance states from high- to low-conductance levels with only slight changes in receptor surface expression. Structural modeling of the GABA receptor in the closed, open, and desensitized states showed that the mutation was positioned to slow activation, enhance desensitization, and shift channels to a low-conductance state by reshaping the hour-glass-like pore cavity during transitions between closed, open, and desensitized states. Our study revealed a novel γ2 subunit missense mutation (P302L) that has a novel pathogenic mechanism to cause defects in the conductance and gating of GABA receptors, which results in hyperexcitability and contributes to the pathogenesis of the genetic epilepsy Dravet syndrome.
Translocator protein (TSPO) is a validated target for molecular imaging of a variety of human diseases and disorders. Given its involvement in cholesterol metabolism, TSPO expression is commonly elevated in solid tumors, including glioma, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer. TSPO ligands capable of detection by optical imaging are useful molecular tracers for a variety of purposes that range from quantitative biology to drug discovery. Leveraging our prior optimization of the pyrazolopyrimidine TSPO ligand scaffold for cancer imaging, we report herein a new generation of TSPO tracers with superior binding affinity and suitability for optical imaging and screening. In total, seven candidate TSPO tracers were synthesized and vetted in this study; the most promising tracer identified (29, K = 0.19 nM) was the result of conjugating a high-affinity TSPO ligand to a fluorophore used routinely in biological sciences (FITC) via a functional carbon linker of optimal length. Computational modeling suggested that an n-alkyl linker of eight carbons in length allows for positioning of the bulky fluorophore distal to the ligand binding domain and toward the solvent interface, minimizing potential ligand-protein interference. Probe 29 was found to be highly suitable for in vitro imaging of live TSPO-expressing cells and could be deployed as a ligand screening and discovery tool. Competitive inhibition of probe 29 quantified by fluorescence and H-PK11195 quantified by traditional radiometric detection resulted in equivalent affinity data for two previously reported TSPO ligands. This study introduces the utility of TSPO ligand 29 for in vitro imaging and screening and provides a structural basis for the development of future TSPO imaging ligands bearing bulky signaling moieties.