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Prog Neurobiol. 1994 Oct;44(2):163-96.

Postsynaptic integration of glutamatergic and dopaminergic signals in the striatum.

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Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The aim of this study was to achieve a better understanding of the integration in striatal medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs) of converging signals from glutamatergic and dopaminergic afferents. The review of the literature in the first section shows that these two types of afferents not only contact the same striatal cell type, but that individual MSNs receive both a corticostriatal and a dopaminergic terminal. The most common sites of convergence are dendritic shafts and spines of MSNs with a distance between the terminals of less than 1-2 microns. The second section focuses on synaptic transmission and second messenger activation. Glutamate, the candidate transmitter of corticostriatal terminals, via different types of glutamate receptors can evoke an increase in intracellular free calcium concentrations. The net effect of dopamine in the striatum is a stimulation of adenylate cyclase activity leading to an increase in cAMP. The subsequent sections present information on calcium- and cAMP-sensitive biochemical pathways and review the regional and subcellular distribution of the components in the striatum. The specific biochemical reaction steps were formalized as simplified equilibrium equations. Parameter values of the model were chosen from published experimental data. Major results of this analysis are: at intracellular free calcium concentrations below 1 microM the stimulation of adenylate cyclase by calcium and dopamine is at least additive in the steady state. Free calcium concentrations exceeding 1 microM inhibit adenylate cyclase, which is not overcome by dopaminergic stimulation. The kinases and phosphatases studied can be divided in those that are almost exclusively calcium-sensitive (PP2B and CaMPK), and others that are modulated by both calcium and dopamine (PKA and PP1). Maximal threonine-phosphorylation of the phosphoprotein DARPP requires optimal concentrations of calcium (about 0.3 microM) and dopamine (above 5 microM). It seems favourable if the glutamate signal precedes phasic dopamine release by approximately 100 msec. The phosphorylation of MAP2 is under essentially calcium-dependent control of at least five kinases and phosphatases, which differentially affect its heterogeneous phosphorylation sites. Therefore, MAP2 could respond specifically to the spatio-temporal characteristics of different intracellular calcium fluxes. The quantitative description of the calcium- and dopamine-dependent regulation of DARPP and MAP2 provides insights into the crosstalk between glutamatergic and dopaminergic signals in striatal MSNs. Such insights constitute an important step towards a better understanding of the links between biochemical pathways, physiological processes, and behavioural consequences connected with striatal function. The relevance to long-term potentiation, reinforcement learning, and Parkinson's disease is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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