Dopamine D2-receptor activation elicits akinesia, rigidity, catalepsy, and tremor in mice expressing hypersensitive {alpha}4 nicotinic receptors via a cholinergic-dependent mechanism

UMMS Affiliation

Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Department of Psychiatry; Tapper Lab

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Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Recent studies suggest that high-affinity neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) containing alpha4 and beta2 subunits (alpha4beta2*) functionally interact with G-protein-coupled dopamine (DA) D(2) receptors in basal ganglia. We hypothesized that if a functional interaction between these receptors exists, then mice expressing an M2 point mutation (Leu9'Ala) rendering alpha4 nAChRs hypersensitive to ACh may exhibit altered sensitivity to a D(2)-receptor agonist. When challenged with the D(2)R agonist, quinpirole (0.5-10 mg/kg), Leu9'Ala mice, but not wild-type (WT) littermates, developed severe, reversible motor impairment characterized by rigidity, catalepsy, akinesia, and tremor. While striatal DA tissue content, baseline release, and quinpirole-induced DA depletion did not differ between Leu9'Ala and WT mice, quinpirole dramatically increased activity of cholinergic striatal interneurons only in mutant animals, as measured by increased c-Fos expression in choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive interneurons. Highlighting the importance of the cholinergic system in this mouse model, inhibiting the effects of ACh by blocking muscarinic receptors, or by selectively activating hypersensitive nAChRs with nicotine, rescued motor symptoms. This novel mouse model mimics the imbalance between striatal DA/ACh function associated with severe motor impairment in disorders such as Parkinson's disease, and the data suggest that a D(2)R-alpha4*-nAChR functional interaction regulates cholinergic interneuron activity.

DOI of Published Version



FASEB J. 2010 Jan;24(1):49-57. doi: 10.1096/fj.09-137034. Epub 2009 Aug 31. Link to article on publisher's site

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The FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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