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FASEB J. 2008 Oct;22(10):3736-46. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-111245. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Deletion of Go2alpha abolishes cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization by disturbing the striatal dopamine system.

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Institute for Integrative Neuroanatomy, Center for Anatomy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


The alpha-subunits of the trimeric Go class of GTPases, comprising the splice variants Go1alpha and Go2alpha, are abundantly expressed in brain and reside on both plasma membrane and synaptic vesicles. Go2alpha is involved in the vesicular storage of monoamines but its physiological relevance is still obscure. We now show that genetic depletion of Go2alpha reduces motor activity induced by dopamine-enhancing drugs like cocaine, as repeated injections of cocaine fail to provoke behavioral sensitization in Go2alpha(-/-) mice. In Go2alpha(-/-) mice, D1 receptor signaling in the striatum is attenuated due to a reduced expression of Golf alpha and Gs alpha. Following cocaine treatment, Go2alpha(-/-) mice have lower D1 and higher D2 receptor amounts compared to wild-type mice. The lack of behavioral sensitization correlates with reduced dopamine levels in the striatum and decreased expression of tyrosine hydroxylase. One reason for the neurochemical changes may be a reduced uptake of monoamines by synaptic vesicles from Go2alpha(-/-) mice as a consequence of a lowered set point for filling. We conclude that Go2alpha optimizes vesicular filling which is instrumental for normal dopamine functioning and for the development of drug-induced behavioral sensitization.

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