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J Neurosci. 2008 Sep 10;28(37):9111-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0381-08.2008.

Presynaptic type III neuregulin 1 is required for sustained enhancement of hippocampal transmission by nicotine and for axonal targeting of alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Both the neuregulin 1 (Nrg1) and alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (alpha7*nAChRs) genes have been linked to schizophrenia and associated sensory-motor gating deficits. The prominence of nicotine addiction in schizophrenic patients is reflected in the normalization of gating deficits by nicotine self-administration. To assess the role of presynaptic type III Nrg1 at hippocampal-accumbens synapses, an important relay in sensory-motor gating, we developed a specialized preparation of chimeric circuits in vitro. Synaptic relays from Nrg1(tm1Lwr) heterozygote ventral hippocampal slices to wild-type (WT) nucleus accumbens neurons (1) lack a sustained, alpha7*nAChRs-mediated phase of synaptic potentiation seen in comparable WT/WT circuits and (2) are deficient in targeting alpha7*nAChRs to presynaptic sites. Thus, selective alteration of the level of presynaptic type III Nrg1 dramatically affects the modulation of glutamatergic transmission at ventral hippocampal to nucleus accumbens synapses.

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