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1.  Presynaptic α7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Enhance Hippocampal Mossy Fiber Glutamatergic Transmission via PKA Activation 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(1):124-133.
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are expressed widely in the CNS, and mediate both synaptic and perisynaptic activities of endogenous cholinergic inputs and pharmacological actions of exogenous compounds (e.g., nicotine and choline). Behavioral studies indicate that nicotine improves such cognitive functions as learning and memory. However, the mechanism of nicotine's action on cognitive function remains elusive. We performed patch-clamp recordings from hippocampal CA3 pyramidal neurons to determine the effect of nicotine on mossy fiber glutamatergic synaptic transmission. We found that nicotine in combination with NS1738, an α7 nAChR-positive allosteric modulator, strongly potentiated the amplitude of evoked EPSCs (eEPSCs), and reduced the EPSC paired-pulse ratio. The action of nicotine and NS1738 was mimicked by PNU-282987 (an α7 nAChR agonist), and was absent in α7 nAChR knock-out mice. These data indicate that activation of α7 nAChRs was both necessary and sufficient to enhance the amplitude of eEPSCs. BAPTA applied postsynaptically failed to block the action of nicotine and NS1738, suggesting again a presynaptic action of the α7 nAChRs. We also observed α7 nAChR-mediated calcium rises at mossy fiber giant terminals, indicating the presence of functional α7 nAChRs at presynaptic terminals. Furthermore, the addition of PNU-282987 enhanced action potential-dependent calcium transient at these terminals. Last, the potentiating effect of PNU-282987 on eEPSCs was abolished by inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA). Our findings indicate that activation of α7 nAChRs at presynaptic sites, via a mechanism involving PKA, plays a critical role in enhancing synaptic efficiency of hippocampal mossy fiber transmission.
PMCID: PMC3866480  PMID: 24381273
2.  Release of [3H]-noradrenaline from rat hippocampal synaptosomes by nicotine: mediation by different nicotinic receptor subtypes from striatal [3H]-dopamine release. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1996;117(4):595-606.
1. The aim of the present experiment was to characterize nicotine-evoked [3H]-noradrenaline ([3H]-NA) release from rat superfused hippocampal synaptosomes, using striatal [3H]-dopamine release for comparison. 2. (-)-Nicotine, cytisine, DMPP and acetylcholine (ACh) (with esterase inhibitor and muscarinic receptor blocker) increased NA release in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 6.5 microM, 8.2 microM, 9.3 microM, and 27 microM, respectively) with similar efficacy. 3. Nicotine released striatal dopamine more potently than hippocampal NA (EC50 0.16 microM vs. 6.5 microM). (+)-Anatoxin-a also increased dopamine more potently than NA (EC50 0.05 microM vs. 0.39 microM), and maximal effects were similar to those of nicotine. Isoarecolone (10-320 microM) released dopamine more effectively than NA but a maximal effect was not reached. (-)-Lobeline (10-320 microM) evoked dopamine release, but the effect was large and delayed with respect to nicotine; NA release was not increased but rather depressed at high concentrations of lobeline. High K+ (10 mM) released and NA to similar extents. 4. Addition of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) reuptake blocker, citalopram (1 microM) to hippocampal synaptosomes affected neither basal NA release nor nicotine-evoked release. 5. The nicotinic antagonist, mecamylamine (10 microM), virtually abolished NA and dopamine release evoked by high concentrations of nicotine, ACh, cytisine, isoarecolone, and anatoxin-a. Although NA release evoked by DMPP (100 microM) was entirely mecamylamine-sensitive, DMPP-evoked dopamine release was only partially blocked. Dopamine release evoked by lobeline (320 microM) was completely mecamylamine-insensitive. 6. The nicotinic antagonists dihydro-beta-erythroidine and methyllycaconitine inhibited nicotine-evoked dopamine release approximately 30 fold more potently than NA release. In contrast, the antagonist chlorisondamine, displayed a reverse sensitivity, whereas trimetaphan and mecamylamine did not preferentially block either response. None of these antagonists, given at a high concentration, significantly altered release evoked by high K+. 7. Blockade of nicotine-evoked transmitter release by methyllycaconitine and dihydro-beta-erythroidine was surmounted by a high concentration of nicotine (100 microM), but blockade by mecamylamine, chlorisondamine, and trimetaphan was insurmountable. 8. Nicotine-evoked NA release was unaffected by tetrodotoxin, whereas veratridine-evoked NA release was virtually abolished. 9. We conclude that presynaptic nicotinic receptors associated with striatal dopamine and hippocampal NA terminals differ pharmacologically. In situ hybridization studies suggest that nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurones express mainly alpha 4, alpha 5, and beta 2 nicotinic cholinoceptor subunits, whereas hippocampal-projecting noradrenaline (NA) neurones express alpha 3, beta 2 and beta 4 subunits. Pharmacological comparisons of recombinant receptors suggest that release of hippocampal NA may be modulated by receptors containing alpha 3 and beta 4 subunits.
PMCID: PMC1909326  PMID: 8646402
3.  Presynaptic Nicotinic α7 and Non-α7 Receptors Stimulate Endogenous GABA Release from Rat Hippocampal Synaptosomes through Two Mechanisms of Action 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16911.
Although converging evidence has suggested that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) play a role in the modulation of GABA release in rat hippocampus, the specific involvement of different nAChR subtypes at presynaptic level is still a matter of debate. In the present work we investigated, using selective α7 and α4β2 nAChR agonists, the presence of different nAChR subtypes on hippocampal GABA nerve endings to assess to what extent and through which mechanisms they stimulate endogenous GABA release.
All agonists elicited GABA overflow. Choline (Ch)-evoked GABA overflow was dependent to external Ca2+, but unaltered in the presence of Cd2+, tetrodotoxin (TTX), dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE) and 1-(4,4-Diphenyl-3-butenyl)-3-piperidinecarboxylic acid hydrochloride SKF 89976A. The effect of Ch was blocked by methyllycaconitine (MLA), α-bungarotoxin (α-BTX), dantrolene, thapsigargin and xestospongin C, suggesting that GABA release might be triggered by Ca2+ entry into synaptosomes through the α7 nAChR channel with the involvement of calcium from intracellular stores. Additionally, 5-Iodo-A-85380 dihydrochloride (5IA85380) elicited GABA overflow, which was Ca2+ dependent, blocked by Cd2+, and significantly inhibited by TTX and DHβE, but unaffected by MLA, SKF 89976A, thapsigargin and xestospongin C and dantrolene. These findings confirm the involvement of α4β2 nAChR in 5IA85380-induced GABA release that seems to occur following membrane depolarization and opening calcium channels.
Rat hippocampal synaptosomes possess both α7 and α4β2 nAChR subtypes, which can modulate GABA release via two distinct mechanisms of action. The finding that GABA release evoked by the mixture of sub-maximal concentration of 5IA85380 plus sub-threshold concentrations of Ch was significantly larger than that elicited by the sum of the effects of the two agonists is compatible with the possibility that they coexist on the same nerve terminals. These findings would provide the basis for possible selective pharmacological strategies to treat neuronal disorders that involve the dysfunction of hippocampal cholinergic system.
PMCID: PMC3034729  PMID: 21346795
4.  Pre-synaptic nicotinic receptors evoke endogenous glutamate and aspartate release from hippocampal synaptosomes by way of distinct coupling mechanisms 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2010;161(5):1161-1171.
The present work aimed to investigate whether and through which mechanisms selective α7 and α4β2 nicotinic receptor (nAChR) agonists stimulate endogenous glutamate (GLU) and aspartate (ASP) release in rat hippocampus.
Rat hippocampal synaptosomes were purified on Percoll gradients and superfused in vitro to study endogenous GLU and ASP release. The synaptosomes were superfused with selective α7 and α4β2 nAChR agonists and antagonists. The excitatory amino acid (EAA) content of the samples of superfusate was determined by HPLC after pre-column derivatization and separation on a chromatographic column coupled with fluorimetric detection.
Choline (Ch), a selective α7 receptor agonist, elicited a significant release of both GLU and ASP which was blocked by the α7 receptor antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA), but was unaltered by the α4β2 receptor antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE). The stimulant effect of Ch was strongly reduced in a Ca2+-free medium, was not inhibited by Cd2+ and tetrodotoxin (TTX), but was antagonized by dantrolene, xestospongin C and thapsigargin. 5-Iodo-A-85380 dihydrochloride (5IA85380), a selective α4β2 receptor agonist, elicited EAA release in a DHβE-sensitive, MLA-insensitive fashion. The 5IA85380-evoked release was dependent on extracellular Ca2+, blocked by Cd2+ and TTX, but unaffected by dantrolene.
Our study shows for the first time that rat hippocampal synaptosomes possess α7 and α4β2 nAChR subtypes, which can enhance the release of endogenous GLU and ASP via two distinct mechanisms of action. These results extend our knowledge of the nicotinic modulation of excitatory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC2998695  PMID: 20633015
nicotinic receptor subtypes; endogenous glutamate; endogenous aspartate; synaptosomes; rat hippocampus; neurotransmitter release
5.  A role for α4(non-α6)* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in motor behavior 
Neuropharmacology  2013;73:19-30.
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) containing either the α4 and/or α6 subunit are robustly expressed in dopaminergic nerve terminals in dorsal striatum where they are hypothesized to modulate dopamine (DA) release via acetylcholine (ACh) stimulation from cholinergic interneurons. However, pharmacological blockade of nAChRs or genetic deletion of individual nAChR subunits, including α4 and α6, in mice, yields little effect on motor behavior. Based on the putative role of nAChRs containing the α4 subunit in modulation of DA in dorsal striatum, we hypothesized that mice expressing a single point mutation in the α4 nAChR subunit, Leu9′Ala, that renders nAChRs hypersensitive to agonist, would exhibit exaggerated differences in motor behavior compared to WT mice. To gain insight into these differences, we challenged WT and Leu9′Ala mice with the α4β2 nAChR antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE). Interestingly, in Leu9′Ala mice, DHβE elicited a robust, reversible motor impairment characterized by hypolocomotion, akinesia, catalepsy, clasping, and tremor; whereas the antagonist had little effect in WT mice at all doses tested. Pre-injection of nicotine (0.1 mg/kg) blocked DHβE-induced motor impairment in Leu9′Ala mice confirming that the phenotype was mediated by antagonism of nAChRs. In addition, SKF 82958 (1 mg/kg) and amphetamine (5 mg/kg) prevented the motor phenotype. DHβE significantly activated more neurons within striatum and substantia nigra pars reticulata in Leu9′Ala mice compared to WT animals, suggesting activation of the indirect motor pathway as the circuit underlying motor dysfunction. ACh evoked DA release from Leu9′Ala striatal synaptosomes revealed agonist hypersensitivity only at α4(non-α6)* nAChRs. Similarly, α6 nAChR subunit deletion in an α4 hypersensitive nAChR (Leu9′Ala/α6KO) background had little effect on the DHβE-induced phenotype, suggesting an α4(non-α6)* nAChR-dependent mechanism. Together, these data indicate that α4(non-α6)* nAChR have an impact on motor output and may be potential molecular targets for treatment of disorders associated with motor impairment.
PMCID: PMC3784255  PMID: 23688922
nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; motor behavior; basal ganglia; dopamine
6.  The Novel Nicotinic Receptor Antagonist, N,N′-Dodecane-1,12-diyl-bis-3-picolinium Dibromide (bPiDDB), Inhibits Nicotine-evoked [3H]Norepinephrine Overflow from Rat Hippocampal Slices 
Biochemical pharmacology  2009;78(7):889-897.
Smoking is a significant health concern and strongly correlated with clinical depression. Depression is associated with decreased extracellular NE concentrations in brain. Smokers may be self-medicating and alleviating their depression through nicotine stimulated norepinephrine (NE) release. Several antidepressants inhibit NE transporter (NET) function, thereby augmenting extracellular NE concentrations. Antidepressants, such as bupropion, also inhibit nicotinic receptor (nAChR) function. The current study determined if a recently discovered novel nAChR antagonist, N,N′-dodecane-1,12-diyl-bis-3-picolinium dibromide (bPiDDB), inhibits nicotine-evoked NE release from superfused rat hippocampal slices. Previous studies determined that bPiDDB potently (IC50 = 2 nM) inhibits nicotine-evoked striatal [3H]dopamine (DA) release in vitro, nicotine-evoked DA release in nucleus accumbens in vivo, and nicotine self-administration in rats. In the current study, nicotine stimulated [3H]NE release from rat hippocampal slices (EC50 = 50 μM). bPiDDB inhibited (IC50 = 430 nM; Imax = 90%) [3H]NE release evoked by 30 μM nicotine. For comparison, the nonselective nAChR antagonist, mecamylamine, and the α7 antagonist, methyllycaconitine, also inhibited nicotine-evoked [3H]NE release (IC50 = 31 and 275 nM, respectively; Imax = 91% and 72%, respectively). Inhibition by bPiDDB and mecamylamine was not overcome by increasing nicotine concentrations; Schild regression slope was different from unity, consistent with allosteric inhibition. Thus, bPiDDB was 200-fold more potent inhibiting nAChRs mediating nicotine-evoked [3H]DA release from striatum than those mediating nicotine-evoked [3H]NE release from hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC3090002  PMID: 19631612
antidepressants; nicotine; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; norepinephrine release; smoking cessation
7.  Presynaptic inhibition of the release of multiple major central nervous system neurotransmitter types by the inhaled anaesthetic isoflurane 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;110(4):592-599.
Presynaptic effects of general anaesthetics are not well characterized. We tested the hypothesis that isoflurane exhibits transmitter-specific effects on neurotransmitter release from neurochemically and functionally distinct isolated mammalian nerve terminals.
Nerve terminals from adult male rat brain were prelabelled with [3H]glutamate and [14C]GABA (cerebral cortex), [3H]norepinephrine (hippocampus), [14C]dopamine (striatum), or [3H]choline (precursor of [3H]acetylcholine; striatum). Release evoked by depolarizing pulses of 4-aminopyridine (4AP) or elevated KCl was quantified using a closed superfusion system.
Isoflurane at clinical concentrations (<0.7 mM; ∼2 times median anaesthetic concentration) inhibited Na+ channel-dependent 4AP-evoked release of the five neurotransmitters tested in a concentration-dependent manner. Isoflurane was a more potent inhibitor [expressed as IC50 (sem)] of glutamate release [0.37 (0.03) mM; P<0.05] compared with the release of GABA [0.52 (0.03) mM], norepinephrine [0.48 (0.03) mM], dopamine [0.48 (0.03) mM], or acetylcholine [0.49 (0.02) mM]. Inhibition of Na+ channel-independent release evoked by elevated K+ was not significant at clinical concentrations of isoflurane, with the exception of dopamine release [IC50=0.59 (0.03) mM].
Isoflurane inhibited the release of the major central nervous system neurotransmitters with selectivity for glutamate release, consistent with both widespread inhibition and nerve terminal-specific presynaptic effects. Glutamate release was most sensitive to inhibition compared with GABA, acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine release due to presynaptic specializations in ion channel expression, regulation, and/or coupling to exocytosis. Reductions in neurotransmitter release by volatile anaesthetics could contribute to altered synaptic transmission, leading to therapeutic and toxic effects involving all major neurotransmitter systems.
PMCID: PMC3600942  PMID: 23213036
acetylcholine; γ-aminobutyric acid; anaesthetics; dopamine; exocytosis; glutamate; Na+ channels; nerve terminal; neurotransmitter release; norepinephrine
8.  Modulation of the function of presynaptic α7 and non-α7 nicotinic receptors by the tryptophan metabolites, 5-hydroxyindole and kynurenate in mouse brain 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2006;149(6):724-732.
Background and purpose:
Two metabolites of tryptophan, 5-hydroxyindole and kynurenic acid (kynurenate) affect the function of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), as measured by electrophysiological and Ca2+ fluorescence techniques. To better understand the modulations by 5-hydroxyindole and kynurenate of the function of nAChR subtypes, we compared the effects of 5-hydroxyindole and kynurenate on the release of various transmitters evoked by nAChR activation.
Experimental approach:
The function of α7nAChRs located on glutamatergic terminals was investigated by monitoring the release of [3H]D-aspartate or of endogenous glutamate from neocortical synaptosomes. We also comparatively considered non-α7 release-enhancing nAChRs localized on hippocampal noradrenergic or cholinergic terminals, as well as on striatal dopaminergic terminals.
Key results:
Epibatidine or nicotine, inactive on their own on basal release, enhanced [3H]D- aspartate and glutamate efflux in presence of 5-hydroxyindole. The release evoked by nicotine plus 5-hydroxyindole was abolished by methyllycaconitine or α-bungarotoxin. Presynaptic nAChRs mediating the release of [3H]noradrenaline ([3H]NA), [3H]dopamine ([3H]DA), or [3H]ACh were inhibited by 5-OHi. The α7nAChR-mediated release of [3H]D-aspartate was reduced by kynurenate at concentrations unable to affect the non-α7 receptor-mediated release of tritiated NA, DA or ACh.
Conclusions and Implications:
(i) 5-hydroxyindole permits selective activation of α7nAChRs mediating glutamate release; (ii) kynurenate down-regulates the permissive role of 5-hydroxyindole on α7nAChR activation; (iii) the non-α7nAChRs mediating release of NA, DA or ACh can be inhibited by 5-hydroxyindole, but not by kynurenate. These findings suggest up the possibility of developing novel drugs able to modulate selectively the cholinergic-glutamatergic transmission.
PMCID: PMC2014664  PMID: 17016503
nicotinic receptors; 5-hydroxyindole; kynurenic acid; glutamate release; catecholamine release; acetylcholine release
9.  Functional Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Containing α6 Subunits Are on GABAergic Neuronal Boutons Adherent to Ventral Tegmental Area Dopamine Neurons 
Diverse nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes containing different subunit combinations can be placed on nerve terminals or soma/dendrites in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). nAChR α6 subunit message is abundant in the VTA, but α6*-nAChR cellular localization, function, pharmacology, and roles in cholinergic modulation of dopaminergic (DA) neurons within the VTA are not well-understood. Here, we report evidence for α6β2*-nAChR expression on GABA neuronal boutons terminating on VTA DA neurons. α-Conotoxin (α-Ctx) MII labeling coupled with immunocytochemical staining localizes putative α6*-nAChRs to presynaptic GABAergic boutons on acutely dissociated, rat VTA DA neurons. Functionally, acetylcholine (ACh) induces increases in the frequency of bicuculline-, picrotoxin-, and 4-aminopyridine-sensitive miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) mediated by GABAA receptors. These increases are abolished by α6*-nAChR-selective α-Ctx MII or α-Ctx PIA (1 nM), but not by α7-(10 nM methyllycaconitine) or α4*-(1 μM dihydro-β-erythroidine) nAChR-selective antagonists. ACh also fails to increase mIPSC frequency in VTA DA neurons prepared from nAChR β2 knockout mice. Moreover, ACh induces an α-Ctx PIA-sensitive elevation in intraterminal Ca2+ in synaptosomes prepared from the rat VTA. Subchronic exposure to 500 nM nicotine reduces ACh-induced GABA release onto the VTA DA neurons, as does 10 days of systemic nicotine exposure. Collectively, these results indicate that α6β2*-nAChRs are located on presynaptic GABAergic boutons within the VTA and modulate GABA release onto DA neurons. These presynaptic α6β2*-nAChRs likely play important roles in nicotinic modulation of DA neuronal activity.
PMCID: PMC3081713  PMID: 21325521
α6-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current; ventral tegmental area; dopamine neuron; α-conotoxin; patch clamp
10.  Nicotinic Receptor Antagonists as Treatments for Nicotine Abuse 
Despite the proven efficacy of current pharmacotherapies for tobacco dependence, relapse rates continue to be high, indicating that novel medications are needed. Currently, several smoking cessation agents are available, including varenicline (Chantix®), bupropion (Zyban®), and cytisine (Tabex®). Varenicline and cytisine are partial agonists at the α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). Bupropion is an antidepressant but is also an antagonist at α3β2* ganglionic nAChRs. The rewarding effects of nicotine are mediated, in part, by nicotine-evoked dopamine (DA) release leading to sensitization, which is associated with repeated nicotine administration and nicotine addiction. Receptor antagonists that selectivity target central nAChR subtypes mediating nicotine-evoked DA release should have efficacy as tobacco use cessation agents with the therapeutic advantage of a limited side-effect profile. While α-conotoxin MII (α-CtxMII)-insensitive nAChRs (e.g., α4β2*) contribute to nicotine-evoked DA release, these nAChRs are widely distributed in the brain, and inhibition of these receptors may lead to nonselective and untoward effects. In contrast, α-CtxMII-sensitive nAChRs mediating nicotine-evoked DA release offer an advantage as targets for smoking cessation, due to their more restricted localization primarily to dopaminergic neurons. Small drug-like molecules that are selective antagonists at α-CtxMII-sensitive nAChR subtypes that contain α6 and β2 subunits have now been identified. Early research identified a variety of quaternary ammonium analogs that were potent and selective antagonists at nAChRs mediating nicotine-evoked DA release. More recent data have shown that novel, non-quaternary bis-1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridine analogs potently inhibit (IC50<1 nM) nicotine-evoked DA release in vitro by acting as antagonists at α-CtxMII-sensitive nAChR subtypes; these compounds also decrease NIC self-administration in rats.
PMCID: PMC4110698  PMID: 24484986
11.  Angiotensin AT1 and AT2 receptor antagonists modulate nicotine-evoked [3H]dopamine and [3H]norepinephrine release 
Biochemical pharmacology  2013;86(5):656-665.
Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. A major negative health consequence of chronic smoking is hypertension. Untoward addictive and cardiovascular sequelae associated with chronic smoking are mediated by nicotine-induced activation of nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) within striatal dopaminergic and hypothalamic noradrenergic systems. Hypertension involves both brain and peripheral angiotensin systems. Activation of angiotensin type-1 receptors (AT1) release dopamine and norepinephrine. The current study determined the role of AT1 and angiotensin type-2 (AT2) receptors in mediating nicotine-evoked dopamine and norepinephrine release from striatal and hypothalamic slices, respectively. The potential involvement of nAChRs in mediating effects of AT1 antagonist losartan and AT2 antagonist, 1-[[4-(dimethylamino)-3-methylphenyl]methyl]-5-(diphenylacetyl)-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1H-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridine-6-carboxylic acid (PD123319) was evaluated by determining their affinities for α4β2* and α7* nAChRs using [3H]nicotine and [3H]methyllycaconitine binding assays, respectively. Results show that losartan concentration-dependently inhibited nicotine-evoked [3H]dopamine and [3H]norepinephrine release (IC50: 3.9±1.2 and 2.2±0.7 μM; Imax: 82±3 and 89±6%, respectively). In contrast, PD123319 did not alter nicotine-evoked norepinephrine release, and potentiated nicotine-evoked dopamine release. These results indicate that AT1 receptors modulate nicotine-evoked striatal dopamine and hypothalamic norepinephrine release. Furthermore, AT1 receptor activation appears to be counteracted by AT2 receptor activation in striatum. Losartan and PD123319 did not inhibit [3H]nicotine or [3H]methyllycaconitine binding, indicating that these AT1 and AT2 antagonists do not interact with the agonist recognition sites on α4β2* and α7* nAChRs to mediate these effects of nicotine. Thus, angiotensin receptors contribute to the effects of nicotine on dopamine and norepinephrine release in brain regions involved in nicotine reward and hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4048931  PMID: 23831951
Angiotensin II receptors; dopamine; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; norepinephrine; reward; smoking
12.  A novel α-conotoxin MII sensitive nicotinic acetylcholine receptor modulates [3H]-GABA release in the superficial layers of the mouse superior colliculus 
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;122(1):48-57.
Mouse superficial superior colliculus (SuSC) contains dense GABAergic innervation and diverse nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes. Pharmacological and genetic approaches were used to investigate the subunit compositions of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) expressed on mouse SuSC GABAergic terminals. [125I]-Epibatidine competition binding studies revealed that the α3β2* and α6β2* nicotinic subtype-selective peptide α-conotoxinMII blocked binding to 40 +/- 5% of SuSC nAChRs. Acetylcholine-evoked [3H]-GABA release from SuSC crude synaptosomal preparations is calcium dependent, blocked by the voltage-sensitive calcium channel blocker, cadmium, and the nAChR antagonist mecamylamine, but is unaffected by muscarinic, glutamatergic, P2X and 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. Approximately 50% of nAChR-mediated SuSC [3H]-GABA release is inhibited by α-conotoxinMII. However, the highly-α6β2*-subtype-selective α-conotoxinPIA did not affect [3H]-GABA release. Nicotinic subunit-null mutant mouse experiments revealed that ACh-stimulated SuSC [3H]-GABA release is entirely β2 subunit-dependent. α4 subunit deletion decreased total function by >90%, and eliminated α-conotoxinMII-resistant release. ACh-stimulated SuSC [3H]-GABA release was unaffected by β3, α5 or α6 nicotinic subunit deletions. Together, these data suggest that a significant proportion of mouse SuSC nicotinic agonist-evoked GABA-release is mediated by a novel, α-conotoxinMII-sensitive α3α4β2 nAChR. The remaining α-conotoxinMII-resistant, nAChR agonist-evoked SuSC GABA release appears to be mediated via α4β2* subtype nAChRs.
PMCID: PMC4026281  PMID: 22506481
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; GABA; synaptosome; subunit-null mutant; α-conotoxinMII; superior colliculus
13.  Functional interaction between pre-synaptic α6β2-containing nicotinic and adenosine A2A receptors in the control of dopamine release in the rat striatum 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2013;169(7):1600-1611.
Background and Purpose
Pre-synaptic nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs) and adenosine A2A receptors (A2ARs) are involved in the control of dopamine release and are putative therapeutic targets in Parkinson's disease and addiction. Since A2ARs have been reported to interact with nAChRs, here we aimed at mapping the possible functional interaction between A2ARs and nAChRs in rat striatal dopaminergic terminals.
Experimental Approach
We pharmacologically characterized the release of dopamine and defined the localization of nAChR subunits in rat striatal nerve terminals in vitro and carried out locomotor behavioural sensitization in rats in vivo.
Key Results
In striatal nerve terminals, the selective A2AR agonist CGS21680 inhibited, while the A2AR antagonist ZM241385 potentiated the nicotine-stimulated [3H]dopamine ([3H]DA) release. Upon blockade of the α6 subunit-containing nAChRs, the remaining nicotine-stimulated [3H]DA release was no longer modulated by A2AR ligands. In the locomotor sensitization experiments, nicotine enhanced the locomotor activity on day 7 of repeated nicotine injection, an effect that no longer persisted after 1 week of drug withdrawal. Notably, ZM241385-injected rats developed locomotor sensitization to nicotine already on day 2, which remained persistent upon nicotine withdrawal.
Conclusions and Implications
These results provide the first evidence for a functional interaction between nicotinic and adenosine A2AR in striatal dopaminergic terminals, with likely therapeutic consequences for smoking, Parkinson's disease and other dopaminergic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3724115  PMID: 23638679
nicotine; dopamine; striatum; rat; nAChRs; adenosine A2A receptor; adenosine A2B receptor; locomotor sensitization; adenosine
14.  The coumarin scopoletin potentiates acetylcholine release from synaptosomes, amplifies hippocampal long-term potentiation and ameliorates anticholinergic- and age-impaired memory 
Neuroscience  2011;197(1):280-292.
In a previous study the simple, naturally derived coumarin scopoletin (SCT) was identified as an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), using a pharmacophore-based virtual screening approach. In this study the potential of SCT as procholinergic and cognition-enhancing therapeutic was investigated in a more detailed way, using different experimental approaches like measuring newly synthesized acetylcholine (ACh) in synaptosomes, long-term potentiation (LTP) experiments in hippocampal slices, and behavior studies. SCT enhanced the K+-stimulated release of ACh from rat frontal cortex synaptosomes, showing a bell-shaped dose effect curve (Emax: 4 μM). This effect was blocked by the nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) antagonists mecamylamine (MEC) and dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHE). The nAChR agonist (and AChE inhibitor) galantamine induced a similar increase in ACh release (Emax: 1 μM). SCT potentiated LTP in hippocampal slices of rat brain. The high-frequency stimulation (HFS)-induced, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor dependent LTP of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials at CA3-CA1 synapses was greatly enhanced by pre-HFS application of SCT (4 μM for 4 min). This effect was mimicked by nicotine (2 μM) and abolished by MEC, suggesting an effect on nAChRs. SCT did not restore the total inhibition of LTP by NMDA receptor antagonist d, l-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (AP-5). SCT (2 μg, i.c.v.) increased T-maze alternation and ameliorated novel object recognition of mice with scopolamine-induced cholinergic deficit. It also reduced age-associated deficits in object memory of 15–18-month-old mice (2 mg/kg sc). Our findings suggest that SCT possesses memory-improving properties, which are based on its direct nAChR agonistic activity. Therefore, SCT might be able to rescue impaired cholinergic functions by enhancing nAChR-mediated release of neurotransmitters and promoting neural plasticity in hippocampus.
▶The coumarin scopoletin has been described as AChE inhibitor. ▶Now we show it exerts promising procognitive properties via nAChRs. ▶It enhances release of ACh and potentiates hippocampal LTP. ▶It improves novel object recognition and T-maze alternation in scopolamine-amnestic mice and ameliorates object memory in age-impaired mice.
PMCID: PMC3212650  PMID: 21945033
ACh release; long-term potentiation; hippocampus slice; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; T-maze; object recognition; ACh, acetylcholine; AChE, acetylcholinesterase; AD, Alzheimer's dementia; AP-5, d,l-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid; CSF, cerebrospinal fluid; DHE, dihydro-β-erythroidine; DMSO, dimethyl sulfoxide; fEPSPs, field excitatory postsynaptic potentials; HFS, high-frequency stimulation; LTP, long-term potentiation; MAO, monoamino oxidase; MEC, mecamylamine; nAChR, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartate; SCOP, scopolamine; SCT, scopoletin
15.  PACAP/PAC1R signaling modulates acetylcholine release at neuronal nicotinic synapses 
Neuropeptides collaborate with conventional neurotransmitters to regulate synaptic output. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) co-localizes with acetylcholine in presynaptic nerve terminals, is released by stimulation, and enhances nicotinic acetylcholine receptor- (nAChR-) mediated responses. Such findings implicate PACAP in modulating nicotinic neurotransmission, but relevant synaptic mechanisms have not been explored. We show here that PACAP acts via selective high-affinity G-protein coupled receptors (PAC1Rs) to enhance transmission at nicotinic synapses on parasympathetic ciliary ganglion (CG) neurons by rapidly and persistently increasing the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous, impulse-dependent nicotinic excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs). Of the canonical adenylate cyclase (AC) and phospholipase-C (PLC) transduction cascades stimulated by PACAP/PAC1R signaling, only AC-generated signals are critical for synaptic modulation since the increases in sEPSC frequency and amplitude were mimicked by 8-Bromo-cAMP, blocked by inhibiting AC or cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), and unaffected by inhibiting PLC. Despite its ability to increase agonist-induced nAChR currents, PACAP failed to influence nAChR-mediated impulse-independent miniature EPSC amplitudes (quantal size). Instead, evoked transmission assays reveal that PACAP/PAC1R signaling increased quantal content, indicating it modulates synaptic function by increasing vesicular ACh release from presynaptic terminals. Lastly, signals generated by the retrograde messenger, nitric oxide- (NO-) are critical for the synaptic modulation since the PACAP-induced increases in spontaneous EPSC frequency, amplitude and quantal content were mimicked by NO donor and absent after inhibiting NO synthase (NOS). These results indicate that PACAP/PAC1R activation recruits AC-dependent signaling that stimulates NOS to increase NO production and control presynaptic transmitter output at neuronal nicotinic synapses.
PMCID: PMC2818583  PMID: 19958833
Ciliary ganglion; quantal analysis; patch-clamp; neuropeptide; nitric oxide
16.  N,N′-Alkane-diyl-bis-3-picoliniums as Nicotinic Receptor Antagonists: Inhibition of Nicotine-induced Dopamine Release and Hyperactivity 
The current study evaluated a new series of N,N′-alkane-diyl-bis-3-picolinium (bAPi) analogs with C6–C12 methylene linkers as nicotinic receptor (nAChR) antagonists, for nicotine-evoked [3H]dopamine (DA) overflow, for blood-brain barrier choline transporter affinity and for attenuation of discriminative stimulus and locomotor stimulant effects of nicotine. bAPi analogs exhibited little affinity forα4β2* andα7* high affinity ligand binding sites, nor for nAChRs modulating DA transporter function. With the exception of C6, all analogs inhibited nicotine-evoked [3H]DA overflow (IC50=2 nM–6μM; Imax=54–64%), with N,N′-dodecane-1,12-diyl-bis-3-picolinium dibromide (C12, bPiDDB) being most potent. bPiDDB did not inhibit electrically-evoked [3H]DA overflow, suggesting specific nAChR inhibitory effects and a lack of toxicity to DA neurons. Schild analysis suggested that bPiDDB interacts in an orthosteric manner at nAChRs mediating nicotine-evoked [3H]DA overflow. To determine if bPiDDB interacts with α-conotoxin MII-sensitive α6β2-containing nAChRs, slices were exposed concomitantly to maximally-effective concentrations of bPiDDB (10 nM) and α-conotoxin MII (1 nM). Inhibition of nicotine-evoked [3H]DA overflow was not different with the combination compared with either antagonist alone, suggesting that bPiDDB interacts with α6β2-containing nAChRs. C7, C8, C10 and C12 analogs exhibited high affinity for the blood-brain barrier choline transporter in vivo, suggesting brain bioavailability. Although, none of the analogs altered the discriminative stimulus effect of nicotine, C8, C9, C10 and C12 analogs decreased nicotine-induced hyperactivity in nicotine-sensitized rats, without reducing spontaneous activity. Further development of nAChR antagonists that inhibit nicotine-evoked DA release and penetrate brain to antagonize DA-mediated locomotor stimulant effects of nicotine as novel treatments for nicotine addiction is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3089982  PMID: 18460644
17.  Dual Effect of Beta-Amyloid on α7 and α4β2 Nicotinic Receptors Controlling the Release of Glutamate, Aspartate and GABA in Rat Hippocampus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29661.
We previously showed that beta-amyloid (Aβ), a peptide considered as relevant to Alzheimer's Disease, is able to act as a neuromodulator affecting neurotransmitter release in absence of evident sign of neurotoxicity in two different rat brain areas. In this paper we focused on the hippocampus, a brain area which is sensitive to Alzheimer's Disease pathology, evaluating the effect of Aβ (at different concentrations) on the neurotransmitter release stimulated by the activation of pre-synaptic cholinergic nicotinic receptors (nAChRs, α4β2 and α7 subtypes). Particularly, we focused on some neurotransmitters that are usually involved in learning and memory: glutamate, aspartate and GABA.
We used a dual approach: in vivo experiments (microdialysis technique on freely moving rats) in parallel to in vitro experiments (isolated nerve endings derived from rat hippocampus). Both in vivo and in vitro the administration of nicotine stimulated an overflow of aspartate, glutamate and GABA. This effect was greatly inhibited by the highest concentrations of Aβ considered (10 µM in vivo and 100 nM in vitro). In vivo administration of 100 nM Aβ (the lowest concentration considered) potentiated the GABA overflow evoked by nicotine. All these effects were specific for Aβ and for nicotinic secretory stimuli. The in vitro administration of either choline or 5-Iodo-A-85380 dihydrochloride (α7 and α4β2 nAChRs selective agonists, respectively) elicited the hippocampal release of aspartate, glutamate, and GABA. High Aβ concentrations (100 nM) inhibited the overflow of all three neurotransmitters evoked by both choline and 5-Iodo-A-85380 dihydrochloride. On the contrary, low Aβ concentrations (1 nM and 100 pM) selectively acted on α7 subtypes potentiating the choline-induced release of both aspartate and glutamate, but not the one of GABA.
The results reinforce the concept that Aβ has relevant neuromodulatory effects, which may span from facilitation to inhibition of stimulated release depending upon the concentration used.
PMCID: PMC3256170  PMID: 22253754
18.  Beta Amyloid Differently Modulate Nicotinic and Muscarinic Receptor Subtypes which Stimulate in vitro and in vivo the Release of Glycine in the Rat Hippocampus 
Using both in vitro (hippocampal synaptosomes in superfusion) and in vivo (microdialysis) approaches we investigated whether and to what extent β amyloid peptide 1–40 (Aβ 1–40) interferes with the cholinergic modulation of the release of glycine (GLY) in the rat hippocampus. The nicotine-evoked overflow of endogenous GLY in hippocampal synaptosomes in superfusion was significantly inhibited by Aβ 1–40 (10 nM) while increasing the concentration to 100 nM the inhibitory effect did not further increase. Both the Choline (Ch; α7 agonist; 1 mM) and the 5-Iodo-A-85380 dihydrochloride (5IA85380, α4β2 agonist; 10 nM)-evoked GLY overflow were inhibited by Aβ 1–40 at 100 nM but not at 10 nM concentrations. The KCl evoked [3H]GLY and [3H]Acetylcholine (ACh) overflow were strongly inhibited in presence of oxotremorine; however this inhibitory muscarinic effect was not affected by Aβ 1–40. The effects of Aβ 1–40 on the administration of nicotine, veratridine, 5IA85380, and PHA543613 hydrochloride (PHA543613; a selective agonist of α7 subtypes) on hippocampal endogenous GLY release in vivo were also studied. Aβ 1–40 significantly reduced (at 10 μM but not at 1 μM) the nicotine-evoked in vivo release of GLY. Aβ 1–40 (at 10 μM but not at 1 μM) significantly inhibited the PHA543613 (1 mM)-elicited GLY overflow while was ineffective on the GLY overflow evoked by 5IA85380 (1 mM). Aβ 40–1 (10 μM) did not produce any inhibitory effect on nicotine-evoked GLY overflow both in the in vitro and in vivo experiments. Our results indicate that (a) the cholinergic modulation of the release of GLY occurs by the activation of both α7 and α4β2 nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs) as well as by the activation of inhibitory muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs) and (b) Aβ 1–40 can modulate cholinergic evoked GLY release exclusively through the interaction with α7 and the α4β2 nAChR nicotinic receptors but not through mAChR subtypes.
PMCID: PMC3406330  PMID: 22866037
β amyloid; glycine release; nicotinic receptors; muscarinic receptors; microdialysis
19.  αConotoxin ArIB[V11L,V16D] is a potent and selective antagonist at rat and human native α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors 
A recently developed α-conotoxin, α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] is a potent and selective competitive antagonist at rat recombinant α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), making it an attractive probe for this receptor subtype. α7 nAChRs are potential therapeutic targets that are widely expressed in both neuronal and non-neuronal tissues where they are implicated in a variety of functions. Here we evaluate this toxin at rat and human native nAChRs. Functional α7 nAChR responses were evoked by choline plus the allosteric potentiator PNU-120596 in rat PC12 cells and human SHSY5Y cells loaded with calcium indicators. α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] specifically inhibited α7 nAChR-mediated increases in Ca2+ in PC12 cells. Responses to other stimuli (5-iodo-A-85380, nicotine or KCl) that did not activate α7 nAChRs were unaffected. Human α7 nAChRs were also sensitive to α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D]: ACh-evoked currents in X. laevis oocytes expressing human α7 nAChRs were inhibited by α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] (IC50 3.4 nM) in a slowly reversible manner, with full recovery taking 15 min. This is consistent with the timecourse of recovery from blockade of rat α7 nAChRs in PC12 cells. α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] inhibited human native α7 nAChRs in SHSY5Y cells, activated by either choline or AR-R17779 plus PNU-120596. Rat brain α7 nAChRs contribute to dopamine release from striatal minces: α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] (300 nM) selectively inhibited choline-evoked dopamine release without affecting responses evoked by nicotine that activates heteromeric nAChRs. This study establishes that α-CtxArIB[V11L,V16D] selectively inhibits human and rat native α7 nAChRs with comparable potency, making this a potentially useful antagonist for investigating α7 nAChR functions.
PMCID: PMC2596936  PMID: 18664588
20.  Ketamine and its preservative, benzethonium chloride, both inhibit human recombinant α7 and α4β2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in Xenopus oocytes 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2001;134(4):871-879.
Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic that is formulated as Ketalar, which contains the preservative benzethonium chloride (BCl). We have studied the effects of pure racemic ketamine, the preservative BCl and the Ketalar mixture on human neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) composed of the α7 subunit or α4 and β2 subunits expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes.Ketamine inhibited responses to 1 mM acetylcholine (ACh) in both the human α7 and α4β2 nAChRs, with IC50 values of 20 and 50 μM respectively. Inhibition of the α7 nAChRs occurred within a clinically relevant concentration range, while inhibition of the α4β2 nAChR was observed only at higher concentrations. The Ketalar formulation inhibited nAChR function more effectively than was expected given its ketamine concentration. The surprising increased inhibitory potency of Ketalar compared with pure ketamine appeared to be due to the activity of BCl, which inhibited both α7 (IC50 value of 122 nM) and α4β2 (IC50 value of 49 nM) nAChRs at concentrations present in the clinical formulation of Ketalar.Ketamine is a noncompetitive inhibitor at both the α7 and α4β2 nAChR. In contrast, BCl causes a parallel shift in the ACh dose-response curve at the α7 nAChR suggesting competitive inhibition. Ketamine causes both voltage-dependent and use-dependent inhibition, only in the α4β2 nAChR.Since α7 nAChRs are likely to be inhibited during clinical use of Ketalar, the actions of ketamine and BCl on this receptor subtype may play a role in the profound analgesia, amnesia, immobility and/or autonomic modulation produced by this anaesthetic.
PMCID: PMC1573008  PMID: 11606328
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; benzethonium chloride; ketamine; anaesthetic mechanism
21.  Nicotine Elicits Prolonged Calcium Signaling along Ventral Hippocampal Axons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82719.
Presynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have long been implicated in the modulation of CNS circuits. We previously reported that brief exposure to low concentrations of nicotine induced sustained potentiation of glutamatergic transmission at ventral hippocampal (vHipp)-striatal synapses. Here, we exploited nAChR subtype-selective antagonists and agonists and α7*nAChR knockout mutant mice (α7-/-) to elucidate the signaling mechanisms underlying nAChR-mediated modulation of synaptic transmission. Using a combination of micro-slices culture from WT and α7-/-mice, calcium imaging, and immuno-histochemical techniques, we found that nicotine elicits localized and oscillatory increases in intracellular Ca2+ along vHipp axons that persists for up to 30 minutes. The sustained phase of the nicotine-induced Ca2+ response was blocked by α-BgTx but not by DHβE and was mimicked by α7*nAChR agonists but not by non-α7*nAChR agonists. In vHipp slices from α7-/- mice, nicotine elicited only transient increases of axonal Ca2+ signals and did not activate CaMKII. The sustained phase of the nicotine-induced Ca2+ response required localized activation of CaMKII, phospholipase C, and IP3 receptor mediated Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release (CICR). In conclusion, activation of presynaptic nAChRs by nicotine elicits Ca2+ influx into the presynaptic axons, the sustained phase of the nicotine-induced Ca2+ response requires that axonal α7*nAChR activate a downstream signaling network in the vHipp axons.
PMCID: PMC3857818  PMID: 24349346
22.  Endogenously released ACh and exogenous nicotine differentially facilitate LTP induction in the hippocampal CA1 region of mice 
The European Journal of Neuroscience  2012;35(9):1381-1395.
We examined the role of α7- and β2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP). Theta-burst stimulation (TBS), mimicking the brain's naturally occurring theta rhythm, induced robust LTP in hippocampal slices from α7 and β2 knockout mice. This suggests TBS is capable of inducing LTP without activation of α7- or β2-containing nAChRs. However, when weak TBS was applied, the modulatory effects of nicotinic receptors on LTP induction became visible. We showed that during weak TBS, activation of α7 nAChRs occurs by the release of ACh, contributing to LTP induction. Additionally, bath-application of nicotine activated β2-containing nAChRs to promote LTP induction. Despite predicted nicotine-induced desensitization, synaptically mediated activation of α7 nAChRs still occurs in the presence of nicotine and contributed to LTP induction. Optical recording of single-stimulation-evoked excitatory activity with a voltage-sensitive dye revealed enhanced excitatory activity in the presence of nicotine. This effect of nicotine was robust during high frequency stimulation, and was accompanied by enhanced burst excitatory postsynaptic potentials. Nicotine-induced enhancement of excitatory activity was observed in slices from α7 knockout mice, but was absent in β2 knockout mice. These results suggest that the nicotine-induced enhancement of excitatory activity is mediated by β2-containing nAChRs, and is related to the nicotine-induced facilitation of LTP induction. Thus, our study demonstrates that the activation of α7-and β2-containing nAChRs differentially facilitates LTP induction via endogenously released ACh and exogenous nicotine, respectively, in the hippocampal CA1 region of mice.
PMCID: PMC3348254  PMID: 22462479
nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; α7 knockout mice; β2 knockout mice; optical recording; voltage-sensitive dye; synaptic plasticity
23.  Nicotinic receptors concentrated in the subsynaptic membrane do not contribute significantly to synaptic currents at an embryonic synapse in the chicken ciliary ganglion 
Rapid synaptic transmission at the calyciform synapse in the embryonic chicken ciliary ganglion is mediated by two classes of nicotinic receptors; those containing α3 subunits (α3-nAChRs) and those containing α7 subunits (α7-nAChRs). α3-nAChRs and α7-nAChRs are differentially distributed on the cell surface; α3-nAChRs are concentrated at postsynaptic densities, while both α7-nAChRs and α3-nAChRs are found extrasynaptically on somatic spines. I explored the contribution of α3-nAChRs and α7-nAChRs to uniquantal responses, measured as mEPSCs or as evoked responses under low release probability conditions. The contribution that each nAChR makes to uniquantal response shape was determined by blocking one nAChR type; pharmacologically isolated α7-nAChR responses were kinetically fast (rise time: 0.32 ± 0.02 ms; decay time: 1.66 ± 0.18 ms; mean ± SD, n=6 cells), while pharmacologically isolated α3-nAChR responses were slow (rise time: 1.28 ± 0.35 ms; decay time: 6.71 ± 1.46 ms; n=8 cells). In the absence of antagonists, most cells (11/14) showed heterogeneity in the kinetics of uniquantal responses, with ∼25% of events exhibiting fast, α7-nAChR-like kinetics and ∼75% of events exhibiting the kinetics expected of co-activation of α7-nAChRs and α3-nAChRs. Cells rarely showed significant numbers of uniquantal responses with slow, α3-nAChR-like kinetics, which was unexpected given that α3-nAChRs alone are concentrated at postsynaptic densities. The only site where ACh quanta can activate both α3-nAChRs and α7-nAChRs readily is on the somatic spines, where α7-nAChRs and α3-nAChRs are present extrasynaptically. At the calyciform synapse, rapid synaptic transmission is mediated apparently without participation of ionotropic receptors concentrated at postsynaptic densities.
PMCID: PMC2696354  PMID: 19321771
synaptic transmission; nicotinic receptor; release; ciliary; ganglion cell; acetylcholine receptor
24.  Inhibition of Native and Recombinant Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors by the Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate Peptide 
A variety of peptide ligands are known to inhibit the function of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), including small toxins and brain-derived peptides such as β-amyloid1–42 and synthetic apolipoproteinE peptides. The myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) protein is a major substrate of protein kinase C and is highly expressed in the developing and adult brain. The ability of a 25-amino acid synthetic MARCKS peptide, derived from the effector domain (ED), to modulate nAChR activity was tested. To determine the effects of the MARCKS ED peptide on nAChR function, receptors were expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, and two-electrode voltage-clamp experiments were performed. The MARCKS ED peptide completely inhibited acetylcholine (ACh)-evoked responses from α7 nAChRs in a dose-dependent manner, yielding an IC50 value of 16 nM. Inhibition of ACh-induced responses was both activity- and voltage-independent. The MARCKS ED peptide was unable to block α-bungarotoxin binding. A MARCKS ED peptide in which four serine residues were replaced with aspartate residues was unable to inhibit α7 nAChR-mediated currents. The MARCKS ED peptide inhibited ACh-induced α4β2 and α2β2 responses, although with decreased potency. The effects of the MARCKS ED peptide on native nAChRs were tested using acutely isolated rat hippocampal slices. In hippocampal interneurons, the MARCKS ED peptide was able to block native α7 nAChRs in a dose-dependent manner. The MARCKS ED peptide represents a novel antagonist of neuronal nAChRs that has considerable utility as a research tool.
PMCID: PMC2709273  PMID: 18812491
25.  Mechanisms Involved in Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor-Induced Neurotransmitter Release from Sympathetic Nerve Terminals in the Mouse Vas Deferens 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29209.
Prejunctional nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) amplify postganglionic sympathetic neurotransmission, and there are indications that intraterminal Ca2+ stores might be involved. However, the mechanisms by which nAChR activation stimulates neurotransmitter release at such junctions is unknown. Rapid local delivery (picospritzing) of the nAChR agonist epibatidine was combined with intracellular sharp microelectrode recording to monitor spontaneous and field-stimulation-evoked neurotransmitter release from sympathetic nerve terminals in the mouse isolated vas deferens. Locally applied epibatidine (1 µM) produced ‘epibatidine-induced depolarisations’ (EIDs) that were similar in shape to spontaneous excitatory junction potentials (SEJPs) and were abolished by nonselective nAChR antagonists and the purinergic desensitizing agonist α,β-methylene ATP. The amplitude distribution of EIDs was only slightly shifted towards lower amplitudes by the selective α7 nAChR antagonists α-bungarotoxin and methyllcaconitine, the voltage-gated Na+ channel blocker tetrodotoxin or by blocking voltage-gated Ca2+ channels with Cd2+. Lowering the extracellular Ca2+ concentration reduced the frequency of EIDs by 69%, but more surprisingly, the Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release blocker ryanodine greatly decreased the amplitude (by 41%) and the frequency of EIDs by 36%. Ryanodine had no effect on electrically-evoked neurotransmitter release, paired-pulse facilitation, SEJP frequency, SEJP amplitude or SEJP amplitude distribution. These results show that activation of non-α7 nAChRs on sympathetic postganglionic nerve terminals induces high-amplitude junctional potentials that are argued to represent multipacketed neurotransmitter release synchronized by intraterminal Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, triggered by Ca2+ influx directly through the nAChR. This nAChR-induced neurotransmitter release can be targeted pharmacologically without affecting spontaneous or electrically-evoked neurotransmitter release.
PMCID: PMC3245264  PMID: 22216213

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