[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies on mice with a disruption of the gene encoding acid-sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a) suggest that ASIC1a is required for normal fear behavior. To investigate the effects of altering the subunit composition of brain ASICs on behavior, we developed transgenic mice expressing ASIC3 via the pan-neuronal synapsin I promoter. These mice express ASIC3 in the brain, where the endogenous ASIC3 protein is not detected. We found that in ASIC3 transgenic mice, ASIC3 co-immunoprecipitated with the endogenous ASIC1a protein and distributed in the same subcellular brain fractions as ASIC1a. In addition, ASIC3 significantly increased the rate of desensitization of acid-evoked currents in cultured cortical neurons. Importantly, ASIC3 reduced Pavlovian fear conditioning to both context and auditory cues. These observations suggest that ASIC3 can heteromultimerize with ASIC1a in the brain and alter the biophysical properties of the endogenous channel complex. Moreover, these data suggest that ASIC subunit composition and channel desensitization may be critical determinants for ASIC-dependent behavior.
Genes Brain and Behavior 02/2011; 10(4):444-50. · 3.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Various subtypes of the acid sensing ion channel have been detected in the retina of rodents and other mammalian species, but the functional importance of this finding is not clearly understood. The purpose of the study was to determine if retinal degeneration was present in ASIC1a-/- mice. The eyes of ASIC1a-/- mice, heterozygote ASIC1a+/- mice, and wild type ASIC1a+/+ mice that were 5 or 22-27 weeks old were processed by routine histotech-nological methods and examined for histologic changes in the retina and other portions of the eye. Additional sections of eyes from ASIC1a-/- and ASIC1a+/+ mice were labeled with peanut agglutinin (PNA) to evaluate cone pho-toreceptors. The retinas of ASIC1a-/-, ASIC1a+/-, and ASIC1a+/+ mice at 5 or 22-27 weeks of age were unremarkable and no morphologic changes in cone photo receptors were detected. Additional findings detected in the eye of ASIC1a+/+ mice included swelling of lens fibers or cataract that were also detected in some of the ASIC1a-/- or ASIC1a+/- mice. Lenticular findings were not considered to be associated with an absence of ASIC1a.
International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology 01/2010; 2(1):69-72.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amygdala processes and directs inputs and outputs that are key to fear behavior. However, whether it directly senses fear-evoking stimuli is unknown. Because the amygdala expresses acid-sensing ion channel-1a (ASIC1a), and ASIC1a is required for normal fear responses, we hypothesized that the amygdala might detect a reduced pH. We found that inhaled CO(2) reduced brain pH and evoked fear behavior in mice. Eliminating or inhibiting ASIC1a markedly impaired this activity, and localized ASIC1a expression in the amygdala rescued the CO(2)-induced fear deficit of ASIC1a null animals. Buffering pH attenuated fear behavior, whereas directly reducing pH with amygdala microinjections reproduced the effect of CO(2). These data identify the amygdala as an important chemosensor that detects hypercarbia and acidosis and initiates behavioral responses. They also give a molecular explanation for how rising CO(2) concentrations elicit intense fear and provide a foundation for dissecting the bases of anxiety and panic disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: No animal models replicate the complexity of human depression. However, a number of behavioral tests in rodents are sensitive to antidepressants and may thus tap important underlying biological factors. Such models may also offer the best opportunity to discover novel treatments. Here, we used several of these models to test the hypothesis that the acid-sensing ion channel-1a (ASIC1a) might be targeted to reduce depression. Genetically disrupting ASIC1a in mice produced antidepressant-like effects in the forced swim test, the tail suspension test, and following unpredictable mild stress. Pharmacologically inhibiting ASIC1a also had antidepressant-like effects in the forced swim test. The effects of ASIC1a disruption in the forced swim test were independent of and additive to those of several commonly used antidepressants. Furthermore, ASIC1a disruption interfered with an important biochemical marker of depression, the ability of stress to reduce BDNF in the hippocampus. Restoring ASIC1a to the amygdala of ASIC1a(-/-) mice with a viral vector reversed the forced swim test effects, suggesting that the amygdala is a key site of ASIC1a action in depression-related behavior. These data are consistent with clinical studies emphasizing the importance of the amygdala in mood regulation, and suggest that ASIC1a antagonists may effectively combat depression.
Journal of Neuroscience 05/2009; 29(17):5381-8. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acid-sensing ion channel-1a (ASIC1a) contributes to multiple fear behaviors, however the site of ASIC1a action in behavior is not known. To explore a specific location of ASIC1a action, we expressed ASIC1a in the basolateral amygdala of ASIC1a-/- mice using viral vector-mediated gene transfer. This rescued context-dependent fear memory, but not the freezing deficit during training or the unconditioned fear response to predator odor. These data pinpoint the basolateral amygdala as the site where ASIC1a contributes to fear memory. They also discriminate fear memory from fear expressed during training and from unconditioned fear. Furthermore, this work illustrates a strategy for identifying discrete brain regions where specific genes contribute to complex behaviors.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2009; 28(51):13738-41. · 6.91 Impact Factor