Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Pharmacol. 2005 Nov;68(5):1376-86. Epub 2005 Aug 2.

Mice lacking the alpha4 nicotinic receptor subunit fail to modulate dopaminergic neuronal arbors and possess impaired dopamine transporter function.

Author information

Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Victoria, Australia.


Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) at presynaptic sites can modulate dopaminergic synaptic transmission by regulating dopamine (DA) release and uptake. Dopaminergic transmission in nigrostriatal and mesolimbic pathways is vital for the coordination of movement and is associated with learning and behavioral reinforcement. We reported recently that the D2 DA receptor plays a central role in regulating the arbor size of substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons. Given the known effects of nAChRs on dopaminergic neurotransmission, we assessed the ability of the alpha4 nAChR subunit to regulate arbor size of dopaminergic neurons by comparing responses of wild-type and alpha4 nAChR subunit knockout [alpha4(-/-)] mice to long-term exposure to cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine, and haloperidol, and after substantia nigra neurotoxic lesioning. We found that dopaminergic neurons in adult drug-naive alpha4(-/-) mice had significantly larger terminal arbors, and despite normal short-term behavioral responses to drugs acting on pre- and postsynaptic D2 DA receptors, they were unable to modulate their terminal arbor in response to pharmacological manipulation or after lesioning. In addition, although synaptosome DA uptake studies showed that the interaction of the D2 DA receptor and the dopamine transporter (DAT) was preserved in alpha4(-/-) mice, DAT function was found to be impaired. These findings suggest that the alpha4 subunit of the nAChR is an independent regulator of terminal arbor size of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons and that reduced functionality of presynaptic DAT may contribute to this effect by impairing DA uptake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center