Heterologous Expression of Alpha 6*- Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors and the Natural Distribution of Alpha 6 Subunits
AuthorBuhlman, Lori Marie
AdvisorLukas, Ronald J
Committee ChairLukas, Ronald J
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractNicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) are neurotransmitter-gated ion channels that exist as a family of subtypes defined by unique subunit compositions. nAChR containing α6 subunits (α6*-nAChR) have attracted interest because α6 subunits are thought to be localized in brain regions implicated in reward, mood and drug dependence. To provide new information necessary toward a more complete understanding of roles of α6*-nAChR in neuropsychiatric health and disease, three lines of investigation were pursued. A set of stably transfected, human, immortalized cell lines were generated that heterologously express nAChR α6 subunits in combination with other nAChR subunits found in reward brain regions (nAChR subunit combinations α6β2, α6β4, α6β2β3, α6β4β3, α6β2β3α5, α6β4β3α5, α6α4β2β3 and α6α4β4β3). The α6α4β2β3 combination may have a functional response to epibatidine that differs from that of the α4β2 nAChR. A unique binding site was identified in cells transfected with the α6β4β3α5 nAChR subunit combination. Messenger RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (mRNA FISH) studies established regional and celluar distribution of nAChR α6 subunit mRNA in the mouse brain. The third line of study extended this work to examine potential co-expression of nAChR α6 subunits and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) or tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) as labels of GABAergic and dopaminergic/catecholaminergic neurons respectively, using tandem mRNA FISH and fluorescence immunohistochemistry. nAChR α6 subunit signal in the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA) was congruent with previous studies. Message was also detected in the amydala, dentate gyrus, striatum, zona incerta, and cingulate, entorhinal, perirhinal, piriform, and prelimbic cortices. nAChR α6 mRNA was coexpressed with GAD in the amygdala, dentate gyrus, striatum, SN, VTA and cingulate, entorhinal, prelimbic and prelimbic cortices. TH was exclusively co-localized with nAChR α6 mRNA in the SN and VTA. Findings suggest extended roles for α6*-nAChR in the brain, particularly in the control of GABAergic neuronal activity and/or GABA release. These studies provide new insights into the composition of α6*-nAChR, the localization and cellular origins of nAChR α6 subunit expression. Data collected suggest roles for α6*-nAChR in many brain regions, including those involved in higher order processes involved in drug dependence and reward, and in modulation of inhibitory neurotransmission.