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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Dec 1;20(12):1027-1035. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyx078.

Striatal N-Acetylaspartate Synthetase Shati/Nat8l Regulates Depression-Like Behaviors via mGluR3-Mediated Serotonergic Suppression in Mice.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmaceutical Therapy and Neuropharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.
2
Division of Neurology, Jichi Medical University, Shimotsuke, Japan.
3
Center for Gene & Cell Therapy, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract

Background:

Several clinical studies have suggested that N-acetylaspartate and N-acetylaspartylglutamate levels in the human brain are associated with various psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder. We have previously identified Shati/Nat8l, an N-acetyltransferase, in the brain using an animal model of psychosis. Shati/Nat8l synthesizes N-acetylaspartate from L-aspartate and acetyl-coenzyme A. Further, N-acetylaspartate is converted into N-acetylaspartylglutamate, a neurotransmitter for metabotropic glutamate receptor 3.

Methods:

Because Shati/Nat8l mRNA levels were increased in the dorsal striatum of mice following the exposure to forced swimming stress, Shati/Nat8l was overexpressed in mice by the microinjection of adeno-associated virus vectors containing Shati/Nat8l gene into the dorsal striatum (dS-Shati/Nat8l mice). The dS-Shati/Nat8l mice were further assessed using behavioral and neurochemical tests.

Results:

The dS-Shati/Nat8l mice exhibited behavioral despair in the forced swimming and tail suspension tests and social withdrawal in the 3-chamber social interaction test. These depression-like behaviors were attenuated by the administration of a metabotropic glutamate receptor 2/3 antagonist and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Furthermore, the metabolism of N-acetylaspartate to N-acetylaspartylglutamate was decreased in the dorsal striatum of the dS-Shati/Nat8l mice. This finding corresponded with the increased expression of glutamate carboxypeptidase II, an enzyme that metabolizes N-acetylaspartylglutamate present in the extracellular space. Extracellular serotonin levels were lower in the dorsal striatum of the dS-Shati/Nat8l and normal mice that were repeatedly administered a selective glutamate carboxypeptidase II inhibitor.

Conclusions:

Our findings indicate that the striatal expression of N-acetylaspartate synthetase Shati/Nat8l plays a role in major depressive disorder via the metabotropic glutamate receptor 3-mediated functional control of the serotonergic neuronal system.

KEYWORDS:

Shati/Nat8l; behavioral despair; mGluR3; serotonin; social withdrawal

PMID:
29020418
PMCID:
PMC5716104
DOI:
10.1093/ijnp/pyx078
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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