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Neuroscience. 2001;105(2):365-78.

The role of the globus pallidus D2 subfamily of dopamine receptors in pallidal immediate early gene expression.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, 2215 Bio Sci II, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4550, USA.


The globus pallidus plays an important role in basal ganglia circuitry, representing the first relay nucleus of the 'indirect pathway' of striatal efferents. In contrast to the well-characterized actions of dopamine on striatal neurons, the functional role of the dopamine innervation of globus pallidus is less well understood. Previous research showed that systemic administration of either a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist or combined dopamine D1 and D2 receptor agonists induces Fos, the protein product of the immediate early gene c-fos, in neurons of globus pallidus [Ruskin and Marshall (1997) Neuroscience 81, 79-92]. To determine whether the ability of the D2 receptor antagonist, sulpiride, to induce Fos in rat pallidal neurons is mediated by D2-like receptors in striatum or globus pallidus, intrastriatal or intrapallidal sulpiride infusions were conducted. The diffusion of intrastriatal sulpiride was estimated by measuring this antagonist's competition for N-ethoxycarbonyl-2-ethoxy-1,2-dihydroquinoline (EEDQ)-induced D2 receptor inactivation. The phenotype of the striatal neurons expressing Fos after intrastriatal infusion was assessed by combining Fos immunocytochemistry with D2 receptor mRNA in situ hybridization. Intrastriatal infusions of (-)-sulpiride (10-200 ng) dose-dependently increased the number of striatal cells expressing Fos; and the Fos-immunoreactive striatal cells were D2 receptor mRNA-expressing, the same population in which systemic D2 receptor antagonists induce Fos. Intrastriatal infusions of high (5 microg), but not low (10-200 ng), (-)-sulpiride doses also induced Fos in globus pallidus cells but the sulpiride appeared to spread to the globus pallidus. Direct intrapallidal infusions of (-)-sulpiride (50-100 ng) dose-dependently induced Fos in globus pallidus with minimal influence on striatum or other basal ganglia structures. Using sensitive in situ hybridization conditions, prominent labeling of D2 receptor mRNA was evident in globus pallidus. D2 receptor mRNA was densest in a lateral 200 microm wide band that follows the curvature of the pallidal/striatal boundary. Cellular analysis revealed silver clusters associated with D2 receptor mRNA labeling over globus pallidus neurons that were immunoreactive for neuron-specific nuclear protein. These results strongly suggest that the dopaminergic innervation of globus pallidus, acting through D2-like receptors internal to this structure, can control gene expression in pallidal neurons.

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