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eNeuro. 2019 Oct 10;6(5). pii: ENEURO.0277-19.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0277-19.2019. Print 2019 Sep/Oct.

The Role of BTBD9 in Striatum and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Author information

1
Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32610.
2
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32610.
3
Division of Sleep Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.
4
Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32610 yuqing.li@neurology.ufl.edu.

Abstract

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensory-motor neurological disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the extremities, generally at night, which is often relieved by movements. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified mutations in BTBD9 conferring a higher risk of RLS. Knockout of the BTBD9 homolog in mice (Btbd9) and fly results in motor restlessness and sleep disruption. Clinical studies have found RLS patients have structural and functional abnormalities in the striatum; however, whether and how striatal pathology contributes to the pathogenesis of RLS is not known. Here, we used fMRI to map regions of altered synaptic activity in basal ganglia of systematic Btbd9 knock-out (KO) mice. We further dissected striatal circuits using patch-clamp electrophysiological recordings in brain slices. Two different mouse models were generated to test the effect of specific knockout of Btbd9 in either striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) or cholinergic interneurons (ChIs) using the electrophysiological recording, motor and sensory behavioral tests. We found that Btbd9 KO mice showed enhanced neural activity in the striatum, increased postsynaptic currents in the MSNs, and decreased excitability of the striatal ChIs. Knocking out Btbd9 specifically in the striatal MSNs, but not the ChIs, led to rest-phase specific motor restlessness, sleep disturbance, and increased thermal sensation in mice, which are consistent with results obtained from the Btbd9 KO mice. Our data establish the role of Btbd9 in regulating the activity of striatal neurons. Increased activity of the striatal MSNs, possibly through modulation by the striatal ChIs, contributes to the pathogenesis of RLS.

KEYWORDS:

BTBD9; Restless legs syndrome; cholinergic interneuron; medium spiny neuron; sleep; striatum

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