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Understanding effects of chronic nicotine requires identifying the neurons and synapses whose responses to nicotine itself, and to endogenous acetylcholine, are altered by continued exposure to the drug. To address this problem, we developed mice whose alpha4 nicotinic receptor subunits are replaced by normally functioning fluorescently tagged subunits,(More)
Knock-in mice were generated that harbored a leucine-to-serine mutation in the alpha4 nicotinic receptor near the gate in the channel pore. Mice with intact expression of this hypersensitive receptor display dominant neonatal lethality. These mice have a severe deficit of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, possibly because the hypersensitive(More)
The identity of nicotinic receptor subtypes sufficient to elicit both the acute and chronic effects of nicotine dependence is unknown. We engineered mutant mice with a4 nicotinic subunits containing a single point mutation, Leu9' --> Ala9' in the pore-forming M2 domain, rendering a4* receptors hypersensitive to nicotine. Selective activation of a4*(More)
Several genetic strategies for inhibiting neuronal function in mice have been described, but no system that directly suppresses membrane excitability and is triggered by a systemically administered drug, has been validated in awake behaving animals. We expressed unilaterally in mouse striatum a modified heteromeric ivermectin (IVM)-gated chloride channel(More)
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors are ligand-gated, cation-selective ion channels. Nicotinic receptors containing alpha4, alpha6, beta2, and beta3 subunits are expressed in midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and they are implicated in the response to smoked nicotine. Here, we have studied the cell biological and biophysical properties of(More)
These electrophysiological experiments, in slices and intact animals, study the effects of in vivo chronic exposure to nicotine on functional alpha4beta2* nAChRs in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic (DA) pathway. Recordings were made in wild-type and alpha4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit knock-out mice. Chronic nicotine enhanced(More)
Fura-2 recording of Ca 2 influx was used to show that incubation in 1 M nicotine (2– 6 d) upregulates several pharmacological components of acetylcholine (ACh) responses in ventral midbrain cultures, including a MLA-resistant, DH E-sensitive component that presumably corresponds to 4 2 receptors. To study changes in 4 2 receptor levels and assembly during(More)
The role of dopaminergic (DA) projections from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in appetitive and rewarding behavior has been widely studied, but the VTA also has documented DA-independent functions. Several drugs of abuse, act on VTA GABAergic neurons, and most studies have focused on local inhibitory connections. Relatively little is known about VTA GABA(More)
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are members of the Cys-loop superfamily of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels, which include GABA (A and C), serotonin, and glycine receptors. Currently, 12 neuronal nAChR subunits have been identified (alpha2-10 and beta2-4) and are generally grouped into alpha subunits, which contain two adjacent cysteine(More)
A leucine to alanine substitution (L9'A) was introduced in the M2 region of the mouse alpha4 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit. Expressed in Xenopus oocytes, alpha4(L9'A)beta2 nAChRs were > or =30-fold more sensitive than wild type (WT) to both ACh and nicotine. We generated knock-in mice with the L9'A mutation and studied their(More)