Reduced expression of a schizophrenia-associated gene Dystrobrevin Binding Protein 1 (DTNBP1) and its protein product dysbindin-1, has been reported in the brains of schizophrenia patients. DTNBP1-null mutant Sdy (Sandy) mice exhibit several behavioral features relevant to schizophrenia. Changes in dopaminergic as well as glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission in cortico-limbic regions have been reported in Sdy mice. Since dysbindin-1 is expressed in multiple brain regions, it is not known whether dopamine (DA) changes observed in Sdy null mutants are due to dysbindin-1 deficiency in DAergic neurons specifically. Here, using a mouse line with conditional knockout (cKO) of DTNBP1 in DA neurons, we studied the effects of dysbindin-1 deficiency on DA release and DA-dependent behaviors. Spontaneous locomotor activity of cKO mice in novel environment was significantly reduced initially but was comparable at later time points with littermate controls. However, the locomotion-enhancing effect of a low dose of d-amphetamine (d-AMPH; 2.5 mg/kg, ip) was significantly attenuated in the cKO mice suggesting a dampened mesolimbic DA transmission. Similarly, the prepulse inhibition disrupting effect of d-AMPH was found to be significantly reduced in the mutant mice. No significant differences between the cKO and control mice were observed in tests of anxiety, spatial learning and memory and social interaction. In- vivo microdialysis in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) showed a decrease in d-AMPH-induced extracellular DA release in the cKO mice. No significant alterations in protein levels of DA transporter, phosphorylated CaM kinase-II or Akt308 in the NAc were observed in the cKO mice. Taken together, our data suggest an important role of dysbindin-1 in maintaining mesolimbic DA tone and call for further investigations identifying mechanisms linking dysbindin-1, DA and schizophrenia.
Keywords: Animal model; Behavior. schizophrenia; Conditional knockout; Dopamine; Dysbindin-1.
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