Targeting serotonin (5-HT) bioavailability with selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) remains the most widely used treatment for mood disorders. However, their limited efficacy, delayed onset of action, and side effects restrict their clinical utility. Endogenous regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins have been implicated as key inhibitors of 5-HT(1A)Rs, whose activation is believed to underlie the beneficial effects of SSRIs, but the identity of the specific RGS proteins involved remains unknown. We identify RGS6 as the critical negative regulator of 5-HT(1A)R-dependent antidepressant actions. RGS6 is enriched in hippocampal and cortical neurons, 5-HT(1A)R-expressing cells implicated in mood disorders. RGS6(-/-) mice exhibit spontaneous anxiolytic and antidepressant behavior rapidly and completely reversibly by 5-HT(1A)R blockade. Effects of the SSRI fluvoxamine and 5-HT(1A)R agonist 8-OH-DPAT were also potentiated in RGS6(+/-) mice. The phenotype of RGS6(-/-) mice was associated with decreased CREB phosphorylation in the hippocampus and cortex, implicating enhanced Gα(i)-dependent adenylyl cyclase inhibition as a possible causative factor in the behavior observed in RGS6(-/-) animals. Our results demonstrate that by inhibiting serotonergic innervation of the cortical-limbic neuronal circuit, RGS6 exerts powerful anxiogenic and prodepressant actions. These findings indicate that RGS6 inhibition may represent a viable means to treat mood disorders or enhance the efficacy of serotonergic agents.
Keywords: GPCRs; SSRIs; animal behavior; cAMP; mood disorders.