Vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) over-expression induces major modifications of striatal cholinergic interneuron morphology and function

Abstract : Striatal cholinergic interneurons (CIN) are pivotal for the regulation of the striatal network. Acetylcholine (ACh) released by CIN is centrally involved in reward behavior as well as locomotor or cognitive functions. Recently, BAC transgenic mice expressing channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) protein under the control of the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) promoter (ChAT–ChR2) and displaying almost 50 extra copies of the VAChT gene were used to dissect cholinergic circuit connectivity and function using optogenetic approaches. These mice display over-expression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) and increased cholinergic tone. Consequently, ChAT–ChR2 mice are a valuable model to investigate hypercholinergic phenotypes. Previous experiments established that ChAT–ChR2 mice display an increased sensitivity to amphetamine induced-locomotor activity and stereotypes. In the present report, we analyzed the impact of VAChT over-expression in the striatum of ChAT-ChR2 mice. ChAT-ChR2 mice displayed increased locomotor sensitization in response to low dose of cocaine. In addition, we observed a dramatic remodeling of the morphology of CIN in ChAT-ChR2 transgenic mice. VAChT immunolabeling was markedly enhanced in the soma and terminal of CIN from ChAT-ChR2 mice as previously shown (Crittenden et al. 2014). Interestingly, the number of cholinergic varicosities was markedly reduced (−87%) whereas their size was significantly increased (+177%). Moreover, VAChT over-expression dramatically modified its trafficking along the somatodendritic and axonal arbor. These findings demonstrate that ChAT–ChR2 mice present major alterations of CIN neuronal morphology and increased behavioral sensitization to cocaine, supporting the notion that the increased levels of VAChT observed in these mice make them fundamentally different from wild-type mice.
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Journal of Neurochemistry, Wiley, 2017, 〈10.1111/jnc.14105〉
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Helena Janickova, Vania F. Prado, Marco A. M. Prado, Salah El Mestikawy, Véronique Bernard. Vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) over-expression induces major modifications of striatal cholinergic interneuron morphology and function. Journal of Neurochemistry, Wiley, 2017, 〈10.1111/jnc.14105〉. 〈hal-01579443〉

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