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Neurabin's Influence on Striatal Dependent Behaviors
The striatum is a key brain region involved in regulating motor output and integration. The dorsal and ventral subdivisions of the striatum work in concert to mediate the reinforcing and motor behavioral outputs of the striatum. Moreover, dysfunction of these striatal regions is involved in various diseases including Parkinson’s disease and drug addiction. Therefore, understanding and characterizing biochemical and molecular changes within the striatum associated with these diseases is key in devolving novel therapeutics to treat these disease states. The main output neurons of the striatum are GABAergic, medium-spiny neurons (MSNs), and striatal functionality is mediated by neuroplastic changes in MSN activity. Within MSNs, dopaminergic receptor activation triggers a cascade of reversable phosphorylation, which is facilitated by the activation of specific protein kinases and inhibition of specific protein phosphatases. In comparison to the 350 serine/threonine protein kinases expressed within the striatum, there are only 40 major serine/threonine protein phosphatases. However, serine/threonine protein phosphatases, such as protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), gain their target specificity by interacting with phosphatase-targeting proteins. Within the striatum, the neurabins, termed neurabin and spinophilin, are the most abundant PP1 targeting proteins in dendritic spines. Spinophilin’s expression in the striatum has been strongly characterized, and spinophilin has been shown to regulate striatal-dependent motor-skill learning and amphetamine-induced locomotor sensitization. In contrast to spinophilin, neurabin’s expression within the striatum and its involvement in these striatal-dependent behaviors has not been fully probed. I found that neurabin expression in the striatum is not sex-dependent but is age-dependent. In addition to these data, I also present validation of new global, constitutive and conditional neurabin knock-out mouse lines. Finally, I present data that, unlike previous studies in spinophilin knockout mice, neurabin knockout mice have enhanced striatal-dependent motor-skill learning, but do not impact amphetamine-induced locomotor sensitization. Further characterization of neurabin’s expression in the striatum, and its role in these key striatal behaviors could provide a druggable target for therapeutics designed to address striatal dysfunction.