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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2011 Jan;31(1):135-43. doi: 10.1007/s10571-010-9562-4. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Downregulation of the cAMP/PKA pathway in PC12 cells overexpressing NCS-1.

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  • 1Departamento de Saúde Mental, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


It is well known that dopamine imbalances are associated with many psychiatric disorders and that the dopaminergic receptor D₂ is the main target of antipsychotics. Recently it was shown that levels of two proteins implicated in dopaminergic signaling, Neuronal calcium sensor-1 (NCS-1) and DARPP-32, are altered in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of both schizophrenic and bipolar disorder patients. NCS-1, which inhibits D₂ internalization, is upregulated in the PFC of both patients. DARPP-32, which is a downstream effector of dopamine signaling, integrates the pathways of several neurotransmitters and is downregulated in the PFC of both patients. Here, we used PC12 cells stably overexpressing NCS-1 (PC12-NCS-1 cells) to address the function of this protein in DARPP-32 signaling pathway in vitro. PC12-NCS-1 cells displayed downregulation of the cAMP/PKA pathway, with decreased levels of cAMP and phosphorylation of CREB at Ser133. We also observed decreased levels of total and phosphorylated DARPP-32 at Thr34. However, these cells did not show alterations in the levels of D₂ and phosphorylation of DARPP-32 at Thr75. These results indicate that NCS-1 modulates PKA/cAMP signaling pathway. Identification of the cellular mechanisms linking NCS-1 and DARPP-32 may help in the understanding the signaling machinery with potential to be turned into targets for the treatment of schizophrenia and other debilitating psychiatric disorders.

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