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J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 31;31(35):12513-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2236-11.2011.

Dopamine-dependent long-term depression is expressed in striatal spiny neurons of both direct and indirect pathways: implications for Parkinson's disease.

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Fondazione Santa Lucia, Instituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, 00143 Rome, Italy.


Striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) are divided into two subpopulations exerting distinct effects on motor behavior. Transgenic mice carrying bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) able to confer cell type-specific expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) for dopamine (DA) receptors have been developed to characterize differences between these subpopulations. Analysis of these mice, in contrast with original pioneering studies, showed that striatal long-term depression (LTD) was expressed in indirect but not in the direct pathway MSNs. To address this mismatch, we applied a new approach using combined BAC technology and receptor immunohistochemistry. We demonstrate that, in physiological conditions, DA-dependent LTD is expressed in both pathways showing that the lack of synaptic plasticity found in D(1) eGFP mice is associated to behavioral deficits. Our findings suggest caution in the use of this tool and indicate that the "striatal segregation" hypothesis might not explain all synaptic dysfunctions in Parkinson's disease.

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