The Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated Protein (FTO) Regulates Locomotor Responses to Novelty via D2R Medium Spiny Neurons

Cell Rep. 2019 Jun 11;27(11):3182-3198.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.037.


Variations in the human FTO gene have been linked to obesity and altered connectivity of the dopaminergic neurocircuitry. Here, we report that fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) in dopamine D2 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (D2 MSNs) of mice regulate the excitability of these cells and control their striatopallidal globus pallidus external (GPe) projections. Lack of FTO in D2 MSNs translates into increased locomotor activity to novelty, associated with altered timing behavior, without impairing the ability to control actions or affecting reward-driven and conditioned behavior. Pharmacological manipulations of dopamine D1 receptor (D1R)- or D2R-dependent pathways in these animals reveal altered responses to D1- and D2-MSN-mediated control of motor output. These findings reveal a critical role for FTO to control D2 MSN excitability, their projections to the GPe, and behavioral responses to novelty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural