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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jul;23(7):1643-54. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs152. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Constellation of HCN channels and cAMP regulating proteins in dendritic spines of the primate prefrontal cortex: potential substrate for working memory deficits in schizophrenia.

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Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Schizophrenia associates with impaired prefrontal cortical (PFC) function and alterations in cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathways. These include genetic insults to disrupted-in-schizophrenia (DISC1) and phosphodiesterases (PDE4s) regulating cAMP hydrolysis, and increased dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) expression that elevates cAMP. We used immunoelectron microscopy to localize DISC1, PDE4A, PDE4B, and D1R in monkey PFC and to view spatial interactions with hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels that gate network inputs when opened by cAMP. Physiological interactions between PDE4s and HCN channels were tested in recordings of PFC neurons in monkeys performing a spatial working memory task. The study reveals a constellation of cAMP-related proteins (DISC1, PDE4A, and D1R) and HCN channels next to excitatory synapses and the spine neck in thin spines of superficial PFC, where working memory microcircuits interconnect and spine loss is most evident in schizophrenia. In contrast, channels in dendrites were distant from synapses and cAMP-related proteins, and were associated with endosomal trafficking. The data suggest that a cAMP signalplex is selectively positioned in the spines to gate PFC pyramidal cell microcircuits. Single-unit recordings confirmed physiological interactions between cAMP and HCN channels, consistent with gating actions. These data may explain why PFC networks are especially vulnerable to genetic insults that dysregulate cAMP signaling.


D1 receptor; DISC1; PDE4; Schizophrenia; Working memory

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