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author:("coulter, Jim")
1.  Targeted Deletion of the Mouse α2 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Subunit Gene (Chrna2) Potentiates Nicotine-Modulated Behaviors 
Baseline and nicotine-modulated behaviors were assessed in mice harboring a null mutant allele of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit gene α2 (Chrna2). Homozygous Chrna2−/− mice are viable, show expected sex and Mendelian genotype ratios, and exhibit no gross neuroanatomical abnormalities. A broad range of behavioral tests designed to assess genotype-dependent effects on anxiety (elevated plus maze and light/dark box), motor coordination (narrow bean traverse and gait), and locomotor activity revealed no significant differences between mutant mice and age-matched wild-type littermates. Furthermore, a panel of tests measuring traits, such as body position, spontaneous activity, respiration, tremors, body tone, and startle response, revealed normal responses for Chrna2-null mutant mice. However, Chrna2−/− mice do exhibit a mild motor or coordination phenotype (a decreased latency to fall during the accelerating rotarod test) and possess an increased sensitivity to nicotine-induced analgesia in the hotplate assay. Relative to wild-type, Chrna2−/− mice show potentiated nicotine self-administration and withdrawal behaviors and exhibit a sex-dependent enhancement of nicotine-facilitated cued, but not trace or contextual, fear conditioning. Overall, our results suggest that loss of the mouse nAChR α2 subunit has very limited effects on baseline behavior but does lead to the potentiation of several nicotine-modulated behaviors.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4731-12.2013
PMCID: PMC3831006  PMID: 23637165
2.  CADASIL Notch3 Mutant Proteins Localize to the Cell Surface and Bind Ligand 
Circulation research  2002;90(5):506-508.
Cerebral autosomal-dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is a vascular dementia arising from abnormal arteriolar vascular smooth muscle cells. CADASIL results from mutations in Notch3 that alter the number of cysteine residues in the extracellular epidermal growth factor–like repeats, important for ligand binding. It is not known whether CADASIL mutations lead to loss or gain of Notch3 receptor function. To examine the functional consequences of CADASIL mutations, we engineered 4 CADASIL-like mutations into rat Notch3 and have shown that the presence of an unpaired cysteine does not impair cell-surface expression or ligand binding.
PMCID: PMC3690627  PMID: 11909813
CADASIL; Notch3; vascular dementia; epidermal growth factor–like repeat; transmembrane receptor
3.  Nicotinic Receptors in the Habenulo-Interpeduncular System Are Necessary for Nicotine Withdrawal in Mice 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2009;29(10):3014-3018.
In humans, tobacco withdrawal produces symptoms that contribute to the difficulty associated with smoking cessation. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can also be observed in rodents. A major standing question is which nicotinic receptor subtypes and which areas of the brain are necessary for nicotine withdrawal to occur. Using knock-out mice, we previously showed that the β4, but not the β2 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, is necessary for the somatic manifestations of nicotine withdrawal. Since the β4 subunit is highly expressed in the medial habenula, we focused our studies on the medial habenula and its primary target, the interpeduncular nucleus. In particular, we studied nicotine withdrawal in mice lacking the α2 or the α5 nicotinic receptor subunits, which are highly expressed in the interpeduncular nucleus. We precipitated withdrawal by systemically injecting the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine in mice chronically treated with nicotine. Both the α2 and the α5 null mutations abolished the somatic manifestations of nicotine withdrawal. In addition, in wild-type mice chronically treated with nicotine, mecamylamine precipitated withdrawal when microinjected into the habenula or the interpeduncular nucleus, but not into the cortex, ventral tegmental area or hippocampus. Our results demonstrate a major role for the habenulo-interpeduncular system and the nicotinic receptor subunits expressed therein, in nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Our data suggest that the efforts to develop new smoking cessation therapies should concentrate on these areas and receptor types.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4934-08.2009
PMCID: PMC3862238  PMID: 19279237
4.  A Point Mutation in the Hair Cell Nicotinic Cholinergic Receptor Prolongs Cochlear Inhibition and Enhances Noise Protection 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(1):e1000018.
The transduction of sound in the auditory periphery, the cochlea, is inhibited by efferent cholinergic neurons projecting from the brainstem and synapsing directly on mechanosensory hair cells. One fundamental question in auditory neuroscience is what role(s) this feedback plays in our ability to hear. In the present study, we have engineered a genetically modified mouse model in which the magnitude and duration of efferent cholinergic effects are increased, and we assess the consequences of this manipulation on cochlear function. We generated the Chrna9L9′T line of knockin mice with a threonine for leucine change (L9′T) at position 9′ of the second transmembrane domain of the α9 nicotinic cholinergic subunit, rendering α9-containing receptors that were hypersensitive to acetylcholine and had slower desensitization kinetics. The Chrna9L9′T allele produced a 3-fold prolongation of efferent synaptic currents in vitro. In vivo, Chrna9L9′T mice had baseline elevation of cochlear thresholds and efferent-mediated inhibition of cochlear responses was dramatically enhanced and lengthened: both effects were reversed by strychnine blockade of the α9α10 hair cell nicotinic receptor. Importantly, relative to their wild-type littermates, Chrna9L9′T/L9′T mice showed less permanent hearing loss following exposure to intense noise. Thus, a point mutation designed to alter α9α10 receptor gating has provided an animal model in which not only is efferent inhibition more powerful, but also one in which sound-induced hearing loss can be restrained, indicating the ability of efferent feedback to ameliorate sound trauma.
Author Summary
Nicotinic cholinergic receptors are essential to higher order brain function. Structurally, these operate through a myriad of ligand-gated pentameric arrangements of different homologous subunits. Here, we report progress in understanding the structural properties of a neuronal nicotinic receptor at the synapse. Receptors assembled from two nicotinic cholinergic subunits (α9 and α10) serve exclusively at the synapse between central nervous system descending fibers and cochlear hair cells. This enabled us to show direct causality between a point mutation of the α9 subunit, and predicted alterations in the synaptic strength in sensory hair cells of the cochlea of α9 point mutant mice. Furthermore, this single mutation results in profound enhancement of central nervous system feedback to the cochlea. And finally, as a consequence, mutant mice possessing this altered receptor have substantially improved resistance to traumatic sound. Thus, central neuronal feedback on cochlear hair cells provides an opportunity to define one specific role that nicotinic receptors can play in the nervous system, enabling study from biophysical to behavioral levels and promoting a target for the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.
A point mutation in the cochlear hair cell nicotinic cholinergic receptor leads to strengthened central nervous system feedback to the cochlea and enhances protection from noise-induced hearing loss.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000018
PMCID: PMC2628405  PMID: 19166271
5.  The divergent DSL ligand Dll3 does not activate Notch signaling but cell autonomously attenuates signaling induced by other DSL ligands 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;170(6):983-992.
Mutations in the DSL (Delta, Serrate, Lag2) Notch (N) ligand Delta-like (Dll) 3 cause skeletal abnormalities in spondylocostal dysostosis, which is consistent with a critical role for N signaling during somitogenesis. Understanding how Dll3 functions is complicated by reports that DSL ligands both activate and inhibit N signaling. In contrast to other DSL ligands, we show that Dll3 does not activate N signaling in multiple assays. Consistent with these findings, Dll3 does not bind to cells expressing any of the four N receptors, and N1 does not bind Dll3-expressing cells. However, in a cell-autonomous manner, Dll3 suppressed N signaling, as was found for other DSL ligands. Therefore, Dll3 functions not as an activator as previously reported but rather as a dedicated inhibitor of N signaling. As an N antagonist, Dll3 promoted Xenopus laevis neurogenesis and inhibited glial differentiation of mouse neural progenitors. Finally, together with the modulator lunatic fringe, Dll3 altered N signaling levels that were induced by other DSL ligands.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200503113
PMCID: PMC2171428  PMID: 16144902
6.  Metabolism of d-Arabinose by Escherichia coli B/r 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;117(2):920-923.
The pathway for d-arabinose metabolism in Escherichia coli B/r has been determined. Evidence is presented to support the following metabolic scheme: d-arabinose ⥋ d-ribulose ⇀ d-ribulose-5-phosphate ⥋ d-xylulose-5-phosphate.
PMCID: PMC285594  PMID: 4359656

Results 1-6 (6)