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J Neurosci. 2014 Jan 22;34(4):1138-47. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2852-13.2014.

Prefrontal deficits in a murine model overexpressing the down syndrome candidate gene dyrk1a.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U901, Marseille, 13009, France, Université Aix-Marseille UMR S901, Marseille, 13009, France, INMED, Marseille, 13009, France, and Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Adaptive Functional Biology, EAC Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 4413, Paris, 75205, France.


The gene Dyrk1a is the mammalian ortholog of Drosophila minibrain. Dyrk1a localizes in the Down syndrome (DS) critical region of chromosome 21q22.2 and is a major candidate for the behavioral and neuronal abnormalities associated with DS. PFC malfunctions are a common denominator in several neuropsychiatric diseases, including DS, but the contribution of DYRK1A in PFC dysfunctions, in particular the synaptic basis for impairments of executive functions reported in DS patients, remains obscure. We quantified synaptic plasticity, biochemical synaptic markers, and dendritic morphology of deep layer pyramidal PFC neurons in adult mBACtgDyrk1a transgenic mice that overexpress Dyrk1a under the control of its own regulatory sequences. We found that overexpression of Dyrk1a largely increased the number of spines on oblique dendrites of pyramidal neurons, as evidenced by augmented spine density, higher PSD95 protein levels, and larger miniature EPSCs. The dendritic alterations were associated with anomalous NMDAR-mediated long-term potentiation and accompanied by a marked reduction in the pCaMKII/CaMKII ratio in mBACtgDyrk1a mice. Retrograde endocannabinoid-mediated long-term depression (eCB-LTD) was ablated in mBACtgDyrk1a mice. Administration of green tea extracts containing epigallocatechin 3-gallate, a potent DYRK1A inhibitor, to adult mBACtgDyrk1a mice normalized long-term potentiation and spine anomalies but not eCB-LTD. However, inhibition of the eCB deactivating enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase normalized eCB-LTD in mBACtgDyrk1a mice. These data shed light on previously undisclosed participation of DYRK1A in adult PFC dendritic structures and synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, they suggest its involvement in DS-related endophenotypes and identify new potential therapeutic strategies.


Down syndrome; Dyrk1a; NMDAR; green tea; prefrontal cortex; synaptic plasticity

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