The extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway contributes to the control of behavioral excitement

Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-3711, USA.
Molecular Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.5). 02/2008; 14(4):448-61. DOI: 10.1038/
Source: PubMed


The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway mediates neuronal plasticity in the CNS. The mood stabilizers lithium and valproate activate the ERK pathway in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and potentiate ERK pathway-mediated neurite growth, neuronal survival and hippocampal neurogenesis. Here, we examined the role of the ERK pathway in behavioral plasticity related to facets of bipolar disorder. Mice with ERK1 ablation acquired reduced phosphorylation of RSK1, an ERK substrate, in prefrontal cortex and striatum, but not in hippocampus or cerebellum, indicating the ablation-induced brain region-specific ERK signaling deficits. ERK1 ablation produced a behavioral excitement profile similar to that induced by psychostimulants. The profile is characterized by hyperactivity, enhanced goal-directed activity and increased pleasure-related activity with potential harmful consequence. ERK1-ablated mice were hyperactive in multiple tests and resistant to behavioral despair in the forced swim test. These mice displayed more home-cage voluntary wheel running activities, rearings in a large arena and open-arm visits in an elevated plus maze. Treatments with valproate and olanzapine, but not lithium reduced baseline activities in ERK1-ablated mice. All three treatments attenuated amphetamine-induced hyperactivity in ablated mice. These data indicate a profound involvement of ERK1 signaling in behavioral excitement and in the behavioral action of antimanic agents. The extent to which ERK pathway perturbation contributes to the susceptibility, mood switch mechanism(s) and symptom pathophysiology of bipolar disorder requires further investigation. Whether there is a shared mechanism through which mood stabilizers produce their clinical actions on mood, thought and behavioral symptoms of mania also requires further investigation.

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Available from: Sungho Maeng
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    • "The difficulties to model the complex symptomatology of BPD in animals have been a major obstacle for investigating the neurobiology of this condition. Although different models mimic manic-or depressive-like behavior (Dao, et al 2010; Engel, et al 2009; Han, et al 2013; Roybal, et al 2007; Shaltiel, et al 2008), few animal paradigms provide insights into the major characteristics of BPD, emotional lability, and behavioral fluctuations. Overexpressing glucocorticoid receptors in the forebrain of mice leads to depressive-like behavior, supersensitivity to antidepressants, and enhanced sensitization for cocaine, indicating that emotional lability can be caused by aberrant glucocorticoid signaling (Wei, et al 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Subtle mood fluctuations are normal emotional experiences, whereas drastic mood swings can be a manifestation of bipolar disorder (BPD). Despite their importance for normal and pathological behavior, the mechanisms underlying endogenous mood instability are largely unknown. During embryogenesis, the transcription factor Otx2 orchestrates the genetic networks directing the specification of dopaminergic (DA) and serotonergic (5-HT) neurons. Here we behaviorally phenotyped mouse mutants overexpressing Otx2 in the hindbrain, resulting in an increased number of DA neurons and a decreased number of 5-HT neurons in both developing and mature animals. Over the course of 1 month, control animals exhibited stable locomotor activity in their home cages, whereas mutants showed extended periods of elevated or decreased activity relative to their individual average. Additional behavioral paradigms, testing for manic-and depressive-like behavior, demonstrated that mutants showed an increase in intra-individual fluctuations in locomotor activity, habituation, risk-taking behavioral parameters, social interaction, and hedonic-like behavior. Olanzapine, lithium, and carbamazepine ameliorated the behavioral alterations of the mutants, as did the mixed serotonin receptor agonist quipazine and the specific 5-HT2C receptor agonist CP-809101. Testing the relevance of the genetic networks specifying monoaminergic neurons for BPD in humans, we applied an interval-based enrichment analysis tool for genome-wide association studies. We observed that the genes specifying DA and 5-HT neurons exhibit a significant level of aggregated association with BPD but not with schizophrenia or major depressive disorder. The results of our translational study suggest that aberrant development of monoaminergic neurons leads to mood fluctuations and may be associated with BPD.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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    • "The ERK signalling pathway comprises phosphorylation of proteins involved in transcriptional and translational regulation, dendritic arborisation, cellular excitability, long-term potentiation and depression, neuronal survival, synaptogenesis, and neurotransmitter release [93], and our findings indicated that all of these pathways were altered in the NR1neo−/− mouse. Upstream, ERK activation is regulated by the activity of dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate receptors [94], which are modulated by antipsychotics [95]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Over the last decade, the transgenic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) NR1-knockdown mouse (NR1neo−/−) has been investigated as a glutamate hypofunction model for schizophrenia. Recent research has now revealed that the model also recapitulates cognitive and negative symptoms in the continuum of other psychiatric diseases, particularly autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As previous studies have mostly focussed on behavioural readouts, a molecular characterisation of this model will help to identify novel biomarkers or potential drug targets. Methods Here, we have used multiplex immunoassay analyses to investigate peripheral analyte alterations in serum of NR1neo−/− mice, as well as a combination of shotgun label-free liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, bioinformatic pathway analyses, and a shotgun-based 40-plex selected reaction monitoring (SRM) assay to investigate altered molecular pathways in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. All findings were cross compared to identify translatable findings between the brain and periphery. Results Multiplex immunoassay profiling led to identification of 29 analytes that were significantly altered in sera of NR1neo−/− mice. The highest magnitude changes were found for neurotrophic factors (VEGFA, EGF, IGF-1), apolipoprotein A1, and fibrinogen. We also found decreased levels of several chemokines. Following this, LC-MSE profiling led to identification of 48 significantly changed proteins in the frontal cortex and 41 in the hippocampus. In particular, MARCS, the mitochondrial pyruvate kinase, and CamKII-alpha were affected. Based on the combination of protein set enrichment and bioinformatic pathway analysis, we designed orthogonal SRM-assays which validated the abnormalities of proteins involved in synaptic long-term potentiation, myelination, and the ERK-signalling pathway in both brain regions. In contrast, increased levels of proteins involved in neurotransmitter metabolism and release were found only in the frontal cortex and abnormalities of proteins involved in the purinergic system were found exclusively in the hippocampus. Conclusions Taken together, this multi-platform profiling study has identified peripheral changes which are potentially linked to central alterations in synaptic plasticity and neuronal function associated with NMDAR-NR1 hypofunction. Therefore, the reported proteomic changes may be useful as translational biomarkers in human and rodent model drug discovery efforts.
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    • "This was typified by clozapine induced early inhibition and delayed activation of the ERK response in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum dependent on EGFR signaling in vitro [1] and in vivo[2,3] unlike olanzapine or haloperidol. The convergence of the ERK cascade with GPCR and growth factor signaling systems upon activation by APDs is noteworthy since signal transduction from the cell surface to the nucleus can regulate cortical neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and neurotransmitter release, processes affected in schizophrenia [4-6]. Whether these cell signaling effects observed with clozapine extend to the second generation atypical APDs aripiprazole and quetiapine has not been tested. "
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    ABSTRACT: Signaling pathways outside dopamine D2 receptor antagonism may govern the variable clinical profile of antipsychotic drugs (APD) in schizophrenia. One postulated mechanism causal to APD action may regulate synaptic plasticity and neuronal connectivity via the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade that links G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) and ErbB growth factor signaling, systems disturbed in schizophrenia. This was based upon our finding that the low D2 receptor affinity APD clozapine induced initial down-regulation and delayed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or ErbB1) mediated activation of the cortical and striatal ERK response in vivo distinct from olanzapine or haloperidol. Here we map whether the second generation atypical APDs aripiprazole and quetiapine affect the EGFR-ERK pathway and its substrates p90RSK and c-Fos in mouse brain, given their divergent agonist and antagonist properties on dopaminergic transmission, respectively. In prefrontal cortex, aripiprazole triggered triphasic ERK phosphorylation that was EGFR-independent but had no significant effect in striatum. Conversely quetiapine did not alter cortical ERK signaling but elevated striatal ERK levels in an EGFR-dependent manner. Induction of ERK by aripiprazole did not affect p90RSK signaling but quetiapine decreased RSK phosphorylation within 1-hour of administration. The transcription factor c-Fos by comparison was a direct target of ERK phosphorylation induced by aripiprazole in cortex and quetiapine in striatum with protein levels in temporal alignment with that of ERK. These data indicate that aripiprazole and quetiapine signal to specific nuclear targets of ERK, which for quetiapine occurs via an EGFR-linked mechanism, possibly indicating involvement of this system in its action.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · BMC Neuroscience
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