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J Neurosci. 2005 Apr 20;25(16):4118-26.

Calcium-stimulated adenylyl cyclases are critical modulators of neuronal ethanol sensitivity.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The importance of the cAMP signaling pathway in the modulation of ethanol sensitivity has been suggested by studies in organisms from Drosophila melanogaster to man. However, the involvement of specific isoforms of adenylyl cyclase (AC), the molecule that converts ATP to cAMP, has not been systemically determined in vivo. Because AC1 and AC8 are the only AC isoforms stimulated by calcium, and ethanol modulates calcium flux by the NMDA receptor, we hypothesized that these ACs would be important in the neural response to ethanol. AC1 knock-out (KO) mice and double knock-out (DKO) mice with genetic deletion of both AC1 and AC8 display substantially increased sensitivity to ethanol-induced sedation compared with wild-type (WT) mice, whereas AC8 KO mice are only minimally more sensitive. In contrast, AC8 KO and DKO mice, but not AC1 KO mice, demonstrate decreased voluntary ethanol consumption compared with WT mice. DKO mice do not display increased sleep time compared with WT mice after administration of ketamine or pentobarbital, indicating that the mechanism of enhanced ethanol sensitivity in these mice is likely distinct from the antagonism of ethanol of the NMDA receptor and potentiation of the GABA(A) receptor. Ethanol does not enhance calcium-stimulated AC activity, but the ethanol-induced phosphorylation of a discrete subset of protein kinase A (PKA) substrates is compromised in the brains of DKO mice. These results indicate that the unique activation of PKA signaling mediated by the calcium-stimulated ACs is an important component of the neuronal response to ethanol.

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