Motion and Emotion : Functional In Vivo Analyses of the Mouse Basal Ganglia

Sammanfattning: A major challenge in the field of neuroscience is to link behavior with specific neuronal circuitries and cellular events. One way of facing this challenge is to identify unique cellular markers and thus have the ability to, through various mouse genetics tools, mimic, manipulate and control various aspects of neuronal activity to decipher their correlation to behavior. The Vesicular Glutamate Transporter 2 (VGLUT2) packages glutamate into presynaptic vesicles for axonal terminal release. In this thesis, VGLUT2 was used to specifically target cell populations within the basal ganglia of mice with the purpose of investigating its connectivity, function and involvement in behavior. The motor and limbic loops of the basal ganglia are important for processing of voluntary movement and emotions. During such physiological events, dopamine plays a central role in modulating the activity of these systems.The brain reward system is mainly formed by dopamine projections from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the ventral striatum. Certain dopamine neurons within the VTA exhibit the ability to co-release dopamine and glutamate. In paper I, glutamate and dopamine co-release was targeted and our results demonstrate that the absence of VGLUT2 in dopamine neurons leads to perturbations of reward consumption and reward-associated memory, probably due to reduced DA release observed in the striatum as detected by in vivo chronoamperometry.In papers II and IV, VGLUT2 in a specific subpopulation within the subthalamic nucleus (STN) was identified and targeted. Based on the described role of the STN in movement control, we hypothesized that the mice would be hyperlocomotive. As shown in paper II, this was indeed the case. In paper IV, a putative reward-related phenotype was approached and we could show reduced operant-self administration of sugar and altered dopamine release levels suggesting a role for the STN in reward processes.In paper III, we investigated and identified age- and sex-dimorphisms in dopamine kinetics in the dorsal striatum of one of the most commonly used mouse lines worldwide, the C57/Bl6J. Our results point to the importance of taking these dimorphisms into account when utilizing the C57/Bl6J strain as model for neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.