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Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Apr 15;65(8):637-45. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.10.008. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

A substrate trapping mutant form of striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase prevents amphetamine-induced stereotypies and long-term potentiation in the striatum.

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  • 1Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.



Chronic, intermittent exposure to psychostimulant drugs results in striatal neuroadaptations leading to an increase in an array of behavioral responses on subsequent challenge days. A brain-specific striatal-enriched tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) regulates synaptic strengthening by dephosphorylating and inactivating several key synaptic proteins. This study tests the hypothesis that a substrate-trapping form of STEP will prevent the development of amphetamine-induced stereotypies.


A substrate-trapping STEP protein, TAT-STEP (C-S), was infused into the ventrolateral striatum on each of 5 consecutive exposure days and 1 hour before amphetamine injection. Animals were challenged to see whether sensitization to the stereotypy-producing effects of amphetamine developed. The same TAT-STEP (C-S) protein was used on acute striatal slices to determine the impact on long-term potentiation and depression.


Infusion of TAT-STEP (C-S) blocks the increase of amphetamine-induced stereotypies when given during the 5-day period of sensitization. The TAT-STEP (C-S) has no effect if only infused on the challenge day. Treatment of acute striatal slices with TAT-STEP (C-S) blocks the induction of long-term potentiation and potentates long-term depression.


A substrate trapping form of STEP blocks the induction of amphetamine-induced neuroplasticity within the ventrolateral striatum and supports the hypothesis that STEP functions as a tonic break on synaptic strengthening.

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