Phenotypic and immunohistochemical characterization of conditional knockout mice with a deletion in glutamic Acid decarboxylase (GAD) in Gpr88 containing neurons and the role of striatal GAD in L-Dopa induced dyskinesia
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Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase (GAD) is a rate-limiting enzyme responsible for synthesis of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Dopaminergic denervation in rodents by unilateral injections of 6-OHDA or MPTP causes an increase in Gad67 mRNA in the striatum, which is further exacerbated by administration of L-Dopa (Horvath et al., 2011; Katz et al., 2005 Bacci et al., 2002). Denervation of nigrostriatal neurons is the key pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease, which results in hypokinetic movement and rigidity. Medium spiny projection neurons of the striatum comprise 95% of the neuronal population and utilize Gad67 (encoded by the Gad1 gene) for the synthesis of basal levels of GABA. The contribution of Gad67 to GABA signaling in medium spiny projection neurons in the striatum has not been thoroughly understood in normal or Parkinsonian states. Mice with a deletion in Gad67 in Gpr88 expressing neurons were generated by crossing mice with a floxed exon 2 of Gad1 with mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of the Gpr88 promoter. The aim of this study was first, to characterize mice with a deletion in striatal Gad67 by immunohistochmical, electriophysiological and behavioral examination to determine whether Gad67 expression contributes to sensorimotor and learning tasks. And next, to investigate whether a downregulation in striatal Gad67 would decrease dyskinesia and affect the impaired motor symptoms following dopaminergic denervation with a unilateral 6-OHDA lesion and subsequent treatment with L-Dopa. In this study, neuronal Gpr88 expression was indicated by GFP reporter expression, which resulted from Cre-mediated excision of exon 2 of the Gad1 gene. Gpr88 expression was confirmed in the striatum, olfactory tubercle, cortex and brain stem. Furthermore, Gpr88 was confined to striatonigral and striatopallidal MSNs in the striatum. Additionally, Cre-mediated GFP reporter expression indicated that Gpr88 expression occurs throughout various brain regions, including the motor and visual areas of the cortex, amygdala, hippocampus and cerebellum during development. The developmental expression of Gpr88 seems to be a highly regulated process that occurs throughout the brain. In the conditional knockout mouse, deleting striatal Gad67 resulted in an upregualtion of Gad67 in the globus pallidus and downregulation in the substantia nigra. The changes in Gad67 expression indicate the effects of inactivating GABAergic signaling in striatonigral and striatopallidal MSNs in the direct and indirect pathways. Mice with a deletion in striatal Gad67 demonstrated compromised performance in spatial learning in the Morris water maze, suggesting that GABAergic striatal signaling in the direct and indirect pathways accounts for cue-based learning and spatial memory. However, inactivation of GABAergic signaling in striatonigral and striatopallidal MSNs does not account for motor deficits such as bradykinesia, akinesia or hypokinesia in intact mice; instead it perpetuates hyperkinetic motor activity. In the second experiment of this study, dopaminergic denervation by a unilateral 6-OHDA lesion induced bradykinesia and hypokinetic motor behavior, as demonstrated by impaired performance in the rota-rod and pole test. Additionally, L-Dopa administration to 6-OHDA lesioned mice evoked abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs) to the same degree in all dyskinetic mice. A deletion in striatal Gad67 did not decrease symptoms of dyskinesia, nor cause a lessening of motor impairment caused by dopaminergic denervation. Complete inactivation of the indirect pathway is believed to limit the inhibition of unwanted actions and may perpetuate dyskinesia, even when striatonigral MSNs of the direct pathway are inactive.