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1.  The role of dopamine signaling in epileptogenesis 
Clinical and experimental studies implicate most neuromodulatory systems in epileptogenesis. The dopaminergic system has a seizure-modulating effect that crucially depends on the different subtypes of dopamine (DA) receptors involved and the brain regions in which they are activated. Specifically, DA plays a major role in the control of seizures arising in the limbic system. Studies performed in a wide variety of animal models contributed to illustrate the opposite actions of D1-like and D2-like receptor signaling in limbic epileptogenesis. Indeed, signaling from D1-like receptors is generally pro-epileptogenic, whereas D2-like receptor signaling exerts an anti-epileptogenic effect. However, this view might appear quite simplistic as the complex neuromodulatory action of DA in the control of epileptogenesis likely requires a physiological balance in the activation of circuits modulated by these two major DA receptor subtypes, which determines the response to seizure-promoting stimuli. Here we will review recent evidences on the identification of molecules activated by DA transduction pathways in the generation and spread of seizures in the limbic system. We will discuss the intracellular signaling pathways triggered by activation of different DA receptors in relation to their role in limbic epileptogenesis, which lead to the activation of neuronal death/survival cascades. A deep understanding of the signaling pathways involved in epileptogenesis is crucial for the identification of novel targets for the treatment of epilepsy.
doi:10.3389/fncel.2013.00157
PMCID: PMC3774988  PMID: 24062645
dopamine receptor; seizure; limbic system; temporal lobe epilepsy
2.  Dual Control of Dopamine Synthesis and Release by Presynaptic and Postsynaptic Dopamine D2 Receptors 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(26):9023-9034.
Dysfunctions of dopaminergic homeostasis leading to either low or high dopamine (DA) levels are causally linked to Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and addiction. Major sites of DA synthesis are the mesencephalic neurons originating in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area; these structures send major projections to the dorsal striatum (DSt) and nucleus accumbens (NAcc), respectively. DA finely tunes its own synthesis and release by activating DA D2 receptors (D2R). To date, this critical D2R-dependent function was thought to be solely due to activation of D2Rs on dopaminergic neurons (D2 autoreceptors); instead, using site-specific D2R knock-out mice, we uncover that D2 heteroreceptors located on non-DAergic medium spiny neurons participate in the control of DA levels. This D2 heteroreceptor-mediated mechanism is more efficient in the DSt than in NAcc, indicating that D2R signaling differentially regulates mesolimbic- versus nigrostriatal-mediated functions. This study reveals previously unappreciated control of DA signaling, shedding new light on region-specific regulation of DA-mediated effects.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0918-12.2012
PMCID: PMC3752062  PMID: 22745501
3.  Dopamine D2 Antagonist-Induced Striatal Nur77 Expression Requires Activation of mGlu5 Receptors by Cortical Afferents 
Dopamine D2 receptor antagonists modulate gene transcription in the striatum. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this effect remains elusive. Here we used the expression of Nur77, a transcription factor of the orphan nuclear receptor family, as readout to explore the role of dopamine, glutamate, and adenosine receptors in the effect of a dopamine D2 antagonist in the striatum. First, we investigated D2 antagonist-induced Nur77 mRNA in D2L receptor knockout mice. Surprisingly, deletion of the D2L receptor isoform did not reduce eticlopride-induced upregulation of Nur77 mRNA levels in the striatum. Next, we tested if an ibotenic acid-induced cortical lesion could block the effect of eticlopride on Nur77 expression. Cortical lesions strongly reduced eticlopride-induced striatal upregulation of Nur77 mRNA. Then, we investigated if glutamatergic neurotransmission could modulate eticlopride-induced Nur77 expression. A combination of a metabotropic glutamate type 5 (mGlu5) and adenosine A2A receptor antagonists abolished eticlopride-induced upregulation of Nur77 mRNA levels in the striatum. Direct modulation of Nur77 expression by striatal glutamate and adenosine receptors was confirmed using corticostriatal organotypic cultures. Taken together, these results indicate that blockade of postsynaptic D2 receptors is not sufficient to trigger striatal transcriptional activity and that interaction with corticostriatal presynaptic D2 receptors and subsequent activation of postsynaptic glutamate and adenosine receptors in the striatum is required. Thus, these results uncover an unappreciated role of presynaptic D2 heteroreceptors and support a prominent role of glutamate in the effect of D2 antagonists.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00153
PMCID: PMC3418524  PMID: 22912617
antipsychotic drugs; neuroleptics; Nr4a1; transcription factor; organotypic culture; glutamate receptors; adenosine receptors; striatum
4.  Oligodendrocytes as Regulators of Neuronal Networks during Early Postnatal Development 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19849.
Oligodendrocytes are the glial cells responsible for myelin formation. Myelination occurs during the first postnatal weeks and, in rodents, is completed during the third week after birth. Myelin ensures the fast conduction of the nerve impulse; in the adult, myelin proteins have an inhibitory role on axon growth and regeneration after injury. During brain development, oligodendrocytes precursors originating in multiple locations along the antero-posterior axis actively proliferate and migrate to colonize the whole brain. Whether the initial interactions between oligodendrocytes and neurons might play a functional role before the onset of myelination is still not completely elucidated. In this article, we addressed this question by transgenically targeted ablation of proliferating oligodendrocytes during cerebellum development. Interestingly, we show that depletion of oligodendrocytes at postnatal day 1 (P1) profoundly affects the establishment of cerebellar circuitries. We observed an impressive deregulation in the expression of molecules involved in axon growth, guidance and synaptic plasticity. These effects were accompanied by an outstanding increase of neurofilament staining observed 4 hours after the beginning of the ablation protocol, likely dependent from sprouting of cerebellar fibers. Oligodendrocyte ablation modifies localization and function of ionotropic glutamate receptors in Purkinje neurons. These results show a novel oligodendrocyte function expressed during early postnatal brain development, where these cells participate in the formation of cerebellar circuitries, and influence its development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019849
PMCID: PMC3093406  PMID: 21589880
5.  Regulation of BMAL1 Protein Stability and Circadian Function by GSK3β-Mediated Phosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8561.
Background
Circadian rhythms govern a large array of physiological and metabolic functions. To achieve plasticity in circadian regulation, proteins constituting the molecular clock machinery undergo various post-translational modifications (PTMs), which influence their activity and intracellular localization. The core clock protein BMAL1 undergoes several PTMs. Here we report that the Akt-GSK3β signaling pathway regulates BMAL1 protein stability and activity.
Principal Findings
GSK3β phosphorylates BMAL1 specifically on Ser 17 and Thr 21 and primes it for ubiquitylation. In the absence of GSK3β-mediated phosphorylation, BMAL1 becomes stabilized and BMAL1 dependent circadian gene expression is dampened. Dopamine D2 receptor mediated signaling, known to control the Akt-GSK3β pathway, influences BMAL1 stability and in vivo circadian gene expression in striatal neurons.
Conclusions
These findings uncover a previously unknown mechanism of circadian clock control. The GSK3β kinase phosphorylates BMAL1, an event that controls the stability of the protein and the amplitude of circadian oscillation. BMAL1 phosphorylation appears to be an important regulatory step in maintaining the robustness of the circadian clock.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008561
PMCID: PMC2797305  PMID: 20049328
6.  Decoding the Epigenetic Language of Neuronal Plasticity 
Neuron  2008;60(6):961-974.
Neurons are submitted to an exceptional variety of stimuli and are able to convert these into high-order functions, such as storing memories, controlling behavior, and governing consciousness. These unique properties are based on the highly flexible nature of neurons, a characteristic that can be regulated by the complex molecular machinery that controls gene expression. Epigenetic control, which largely involves events of chromatin remodeling, appears to be one way in which transcriptional regulation of gene expression can be modified in neurons. This review will focus on how epigenetic control in the mature nervous system may guide dynamic plasticity processes and long-lasting cellular neuronal responses. We outline the molecular pathways underlying chromatin transitions, propose the presence of an “epigenetic indexing code,” and discuss how central findings accumulating at an exponential pace in the field of epigenetics are conceptually changing our perspective of adult brain function.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2008.10.012
PMCID: PMC2737473  PMID: 19109904
7.  Getting specialized: presynaptic and postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptors 
Summary
Dopamine (DA) signaling controls many physiological functions ranging from locomotion to hormone secretion, and plays a critical role in addiction. DA elevation, for instance in the response to drugs of abuse, simultaneously activates neurons expressing different DA receptors; how responses from diverse neurons/receptors are orchestrated in the generation of behavioral and cellular outcomes, is still not completely defined. Signaling from DA D2 receptors (D2Rs) is a good example to illustrate this complexity. D2Rs have presynaptic and postsynaptic localization and functions, which are shared by two isoforms in vivo. Recent results from knockout mice are clarifying the role of site and D2 isoform-specific effects thereby increasing our understanding of how DA modulates neuronal physiology.
doi:10.1016/j.coph.2008.12.002
PMCID: PMC2710814  PMID: 19138563
8.  Genetically determined interaction between the dopamine transporter and the D2 receptor on prefronto-striatal activity and volume in humans 
Dopamine modulation of neuronal activity during memory tasks identifies a non-linear inverted-U shaped function. Both the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine D2 receptors (encoded by DRD2) critically regulate dopamine signaling in the striatum and in prefrontal cortex during memory. Moreover, in vitro studies have demonstrated that DAT and D2 proteins reciprocally regulate each other presynaptically. Therefore, we have evaluated the genetic interaction between a DRD2 polymorphism (rs1076560) causing reduced presynaptic D2 receptor expression and the DAT 3’-VNTR variant (affecting DAT expression) in a large sample of healthy subjects undergoing BOLD - fMRI during memory tasks and structural MRI. Results indicated a significant DRD2/DAT interaction in prefrontal cortex and striatum BOLD activity during both working memory and encoding of recognition memory. The differential effect on BOLD activity of the DAT variant was mostly manifest in the context of the DRD2 allele associated with lower presynaptic expression. Similar results were also evident for gray matter volume in caudate. These interactions describe a non-linear relationship between compound genotypes and brain activity or gray matter volume. Complementary data from striatal protein extracts from wild-type and D2 knock-out animals (D2R−/−) indicate that DAT and D2 proteins interact in vivo. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the interaction between genetic variants in DRD2 and DAT critically modulates the non-linear relationship between dopamine and neuronal activity during memory processing.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4858-08.2009
PMCID: PMC2686116  PMID: 19176830
working memory; Recognition Memory; FMRI; Dopamine; Transport; D2; Receptor

Results 1-8 (8)