The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Recent clinical studies reveal that selective agonists of group II metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors have robust efficacy in treating positive and negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Group II mGlu receptor agonists also modulate the in vivo activity of psychotomimetic drugs and reduce the ability of psychotomimetic hallucinogens to increase glutamatergic transmission. Because increased excitation of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been implicated in pathophysiology of schizophrenia, the ability of group II mGlu receptor agonists to reduce hallucinogenic drug action in this region is believed to be directly related to their antipsychotic efficacy. A novel class of ligands, termed positive allosteric modulators, has recently been identified, displaying exceptional mGlu2 receptor selectivity. These compounds do not activate mGlu2 receptors directly but potentiate the ability of glutamate and other agonists to activate this receptor. We now report that the mGlu2 receptor-selective positive allosteric modulator biphenyl-indanone A (BINA) modulates excitatory neurotransmission in the mPFC and attenuates the in vivo actions of the hallucinogenic 5-HT(2A/2C) receptor agonist (-)2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromoamphetamine [(-)DOB]. BINA attenuates serotonin-induced increases in spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents in the mPFC, mimicking the effect of the mGlu2/3 receptor agonist (2S,2'R,3'R)-2-(2',3'-dicarboxycyclopropyl)glycine (DCG-IV). In addition, BINA reduced (-)DOB-induced head twitch behavior and Fos expression in mPFC, effects reversed by pretreatment with the mGlu2/3 receptor antagonist 2S-2-amino-2-(1S,2S-2-carboxycyclopropan-1-yl) -3 - (xanth-9-yl-)propionic acid (LY341495). These data confirm the relevance of excitatory signaling in the mPFC to the behavioral actions of hallucinogens and further support the targeting of mGlu2 receptors as a novel strategy for treating glutamatergic dysfunction in schizophrenia.
Non-receptor tyrosine kinase proline-rich protein tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) functions as an integrator of multiple signaling pathways involved in the regulation of fundamental cellular processes. Pyk2 expression, regulation, and functions in skin have not been examined. Here we investigated the expression and subcellular localization of Pyk2 in human epidermis and in primary human keratinocytes, and studied the mechanisms of Pyk2 activation by differentiation-inducing stimuli, and the role of Pyk2 as a regulator of keratinocyte differentiation. We demonstrate that Pyk2 is abundantly expressed in skin keratinocytes. Notably, the endogenous Pyk2 protein is predominantly localized in keratinocyte nuclei throughout all layers of healthy human epidermis, and in cultured human keratinocytes. Pyk2 is activated by treatment with keratinocyte-differentiating agents, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and calcium via a mechanism that requires intracellular calcium release and functional protein kinase C (PKC) and Src activities. Particularly, differentiation-promoting PKC delta and PKC eta elicit Pyk2 activation. Our data show that Pyk2 increases promoter activity and endogenous protein levels of involucrin, a marker of keratinocyte terminal differentiation. This regulation is associated with increased expression of Fra-1 and JunD, activator protein-1 transcription factors known to be required for involucrin expression. Altogether, these results provide insights into Pyk2 signaling in epidermis and reveal a novel role for Pyk2 in regulation of keratinocyte differentiation.
Mice lacking DARPP-32, a striatal-enriched phosphoprotein, show abnormal behavioral and biochemical responses to cocaine, but the role of individual phosphorylation sites in DARPP-32 in these responses is unknown. We show here that mutation of Thr-34 in DARPP-32 mimicked the behavioral phenotype of the constitutive DARPP-32 knockout in cocaine-induced place conditioning, locomotor activity, and sensitization paradigms. In contrast, mutations of Thr75 did not affect conditioned place preference or the acute locomotor response to cocaine, but DARPP-32 Thr-75 mutants showed no locomotor sensitization in response to repeated cocaine administration. Consistent with these behavioral findings, we found that cocaine regulation of gene expression in striatum, including the acute induction of the immediate early genes c-fos and arc (activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated gene), was abolished in DARPP-32 Thr-34 mutants, but not in Thr-75 mutants. Similarly, induction of the transcription factor DeltaFosB in the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens) by chronic cocaine was diminished by the Thr-34, but not the Thr-75, mutation. These findings highlight distinct roles of the Thr-34 and Thr-75 phosphorylation sites of DARPP-32 in mediating short- and long-term behavioral and biochemical actions of cocaine.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-OH-kinase (PI3K) and STAT3 are signal transduction molecules activated by leptin in brain areas controlling food intake. To investigate their role in leptin-mediated inhibition of hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (Npy) and agouti-related peptide (Agrp) gene expression, male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 5/group) were either fed ad libitum or subjected to a 52-h fast. At 12-h intervals, the PI3K inhibitor LY-294002 (LY, 1 nmol) or vehicle was injected intracerebroventricularly (ICV) as a pretreatment, followed 1 h later by leptin (3 microg icv) or vehicle. Fasting increased hypothalamic Npy and Agrp mRNA levels (P < 0.05), and ICV leptin administration prevented this increase. As predicted, LY pretreatment blocked this inhibitory effect of leptin, such that Npy and Agrp levels in LY-leptin-treated animals were similar to fasted controls. By comparison, leptin-mediated activation of hypothalamic STAT3 signaling, as measured by induction of both phospho-STAT3 immunohistochemistry and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (Socs3) mRNA, was not significantly attenuated by ICV LY pretreatment. Because NPY/AgRP neurons project to the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), we next investigated whether leptin activation of PVN neurons is similarly PI3K dependent. Compared with vehicle, leptin increased the number of c-Fos positive cells within the parvocellular PVN (P = 0.001), and LY pretreatment attenuated this effect by 35% (P = 0.043). We conclude that leptin requires intact PI3K signaling both to inhibit hypothalamic Npy and Agrp gene expression and activate neurons within the PVN. In addition, these data suggest that leptin activation of STAT3 is insufficient to inhibit expression of Npy or Agrp in the absence of PI3K signaling.
Orexin/hypocretin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus and adjacent perifornical area (LH/PFA) innervate midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons that project to corticolimbic sites and subserve psychostimulant-induced locomotor activity. However, it is not known whether dopamine neurons in turn regulate the activity of orexin cells. We examined the ability of dopamine agonists to activate orexin neurons in the rat, as reflected by induction of Fos. The mixed dopamine agonist apomorphine increased Fos expression in orexin cells, with a greater effect on orexin neurons located medial to the fornix. Both the selective D1-like agonist, A-77636, and the D2-like agonist, quinpirole, also induced Fos in orexin cells, suggesting that stimulation of either receptor subtype is sufficient to activate orexin neurons. Consistent with this finding, combined SCH 23390 (D1 antagonist)-haloperidol (D2 antagonist) pretreatment blocked apomorphine-induced activation of medial as well as lateral orexin neurons; in contrast, pretreatment with either the D1-like or D2-like antagonists alone did not attenuate apomorphine-induced activation of medial orexin cells. In situ hybridization histochemistry revealed that LH/PFA cells rarely express mRNAs encoding dopamine receptors, suggesting that orexin cells are transsynaptically activated by apomorphine. We therefore lesioned the nucleus accumbens, a site known to regulate orexin cells, but this treatment did not alter apomorphine-elicited activation of medial or lateral orexin neurons. Interestingly, apomorphine failed to activate orexin cells in isoflurane-anaesthetized animals. These data suggest that apomorphine-induced arousal but not accumbens-mediated hyperactivity is required for dopamine to transsynaptically activate orexin neurons.
The capacity to adjust energy intake in response to changing energy requirements is a defining feature of energy homeostasis. Despite the identification of leptin as a key mediator of this process, the mechanism whereby changes of body adiposity are coupled to adaptive, short-term adjustments of energy intake remains poorly understood. To investigate the physiological role of leptin in the control of meal size and the response to satiety signals, and to identify brain areas mediating this effect, we studied Koletsky (fa(k)/fa(k)) rats, which develop severe obesity due to the genetic absence of leptin receptors. Our finding of markedly increased meal size and reduced satiety in response to the gut peptide cholecystokinin (CCK) in these leptin receptor-deficient animals suggests a critical role for leptin signaling in the response to endogenous signals that promote meal termination. To determine if the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) (a key forebrain site of leptin action) mediates this leptin effect, we used adenoviral gene therapy to express either functional leptin receptors or a reporter gene in the area of the ARC of fa(k)/fa(k) rats. Restoration of leptin signaling to this brain area normalized the effect of CCK on the activation of neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract and area postrema, key hindbrain areas for processing satiety-related inputs. This intervention also reduced meal size and enhanced CCK-induced satiety in fa(k)/fa(k) rats. These findings demonstrate that forebrain signaling by leptin, a long-term regulator of body adiposity, limits food intake on a meal-to-meal basis by regulating the hindbrain response to short-acting satiety signals.
CC(A/T)6GG-dependent (CArG-dependent) and serum response factor-dependent (SRF-dependent) mechanisms are required for gene expression in smooth muscle cells (SMCs). However, an unusual feature of many SMC-selective promoter CArG elements is that they contain a conserved single G or C substitution in their central A/T-rich region, which reduces binding affinity for ubiquitously expressed SRF. We hypothesized that this CArG degeneracy contributes to cell-specific expression of smooth muscle alpha-actin in vivo, since substitution of c-fos consensus CArGs for the degenerate CArGs resulted in relaxed specificity in cultured cells. Surprisingly, our present results show that these substitutions have no effect on smooth muscle-specific transgene expression during normal development and maturation in transgenic mice. However, these substitutions significantly attenuated injury-induced downregulation of the mutant transgene under conditions where SRF expression was increased but expression of myocardin, a smooth muscle-selective SRF coactivator, was decreased. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses, together with cell culture studies, suggested that myocardin selectively enhanced SRF binding to degenerate versus consensus CArG elements. Our results indicate that reductions in myocardin expression and the degeneracy of CArG elements within smooth muscle promoters play a key role in phenotypic switching of smooth muscle cells in vivo, as well as in mediating responses of CArG-dependent smooth muscle genes and growth regulatory genes under conditions in which these 2 classes of genes are differentially expressed.
Hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons help regulate long-term energy stores. POMC neurons are also found in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), a region regulating satiety. We show here that mouse brainstem NTS POMC neurons are activated by cholecystokinin (CCK) and feeding-induced satiety and that activation of the neuronal melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4-R) is required for CCK-induced suppression of feeding; the melanocortin system thus provides a potential substrate for integration of long-term adipostatic and short-term satiety signals.
Peptide YY(3-36) (PYY(3-36)), a peptide released postprandially by the gut, has been demonstrated to inhibit food intake. Little is known about the mechanism by which PYY(3-36) inhibits food intake, although the peptide has been shown to increase hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA in vivo and to activate POMC neurons in an electrophysiological slice preparation. Understanding the physiology of PYY(3-36) is further complicated by the fact that some laboratories have had difficulty demonstrating inhibition of feeding by the peptide in rodents. We demonstrate here that, like cholecystokinin, PYY(3-36) dose-dependently inhibits food intake by approximately 20-45% over a 3- to 4-h period post ip administration, with no effect on 12-h food intake. This short-lived satiety effect is not seen in animals that are not thoroughly acclimated to handling and ip injection, thus potentially explaining the difficulty in reproducing the effect. Surprisingly, PYY(3-36) was equally efficacious in inducing satiety in wild-type and melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4-R)-deficient mice and thus does not appear to be dependent on MC4-R signaling. The expression of c-Fos, an indirect marker of neuronal activation, was also examined in forebrain and brainstem neurons after ip treatment with a dose of PYY(3-36) shown to induce satiety. The peptide induced no significant neuronal activation in the brainstem by this assay, and only modest activation of hypothalamic POMC neurons. Thus, unlike cholecystokinin, PYY(3-36)-induced satiety is atypical, because it does not produce detectable activation of brainstem satiety centers and is not dependent on MC4-R signaling.
Chronic morphine leads to compensatory up-regulation of cAMP signaling pathways in numerous brain regions. One potential consequence of up-regulated cAMP signaling is increased phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), a transcription factor that may regulate neuroadaptations related to morphine dependence. Altered gene expression within the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a ventral component of the striatum that receives substantial dopaminergic input, may play a role in some of the motivational aspects of opiate withdrawal. To determine if morphine withdrawal leads to increased CREB phosphorylation in striatal tissues, we examined the effects of naloxone-precipitated morphine withdrawal on CREB phosphorylation in primary cultures of rat striatal neurons. Precipitated morphine withdrawal was associated with enhanced dopamine-, SKF 82958 (D1 receptor agonist)-, and forskolin-induced CREB phosphorylation. During precipitated withdrawal, D1 receptor-mediated CREB phosphorylation was dependent on cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Precipitated withdrawal also led to up-regulation of c-fos mRNA in response to SKF 82958. CREB protein levels were not altered by acute or chronic morphine. These results suggest that D1 receptor-mediated signal transduction is enhanced during morphine withdrawal. Furthermore, they are consistent with in vivo evidence suggesting that increased CREB activation in portions of the striatum (e.g. the NAc) is related to dysphoric states associated with drug withdrawal.