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PhD Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil (2010)
Post-Doc University of Western Ontario, Canada (2011-2012)
Post-Doc CEA, Grenoble (2012-2013)

Expertise: Neuroscience, Memory, Behavior

17 publication(s) depuis Janvier 2007:

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* equal contribution
Les IF indiqués ont été collectés par le Web of Sciences en

11/2011 | PLoS Biol   IF 11.5
Elimination of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter in the striatum reveals regulation of behaviour by cholinergic-glutamatergic co-transmission.
Guzman MS*, De-Jaeger X*, Raulic S, Souza IA, Li AX, Schmid S, Menon RS, Gainetdinov RR, Caron MG, Bartha R, Prado VF, Prado MA

Cholinergic neurons in the striatum are thought to play major regulatory functions in motor behaviour and reward. These neurons express two vesicular transporters that can load either acetylcholine or glutamate into synaptic vesicles. Consequently cholinergic neurons can release both neurotransmitters, making it difficult to discern their individual contributions for the regulation of striatal functions. Here we have dissected the specific roles of acetylcholine release for striatal-dependent behaviour in mice by selective elimination of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) from striatal cholinergic neurons. Analysis of several behavioural parameters indicates that elimination of VAChT had only marginal consequences in striatum-related tasks and did not affect spontaneous locomotion, cocaine-induced hyperactivity, or its reward properties. However, dopaminergic sensitivity of medium spiny neurons (MSN) and the behavioural outputs in response to direct dopaminergic agonists were enhanced, likely due to increased expression/function of dopamine receptors in the striatum. These observations indicate that previous functions attributed to striatal cholinergic neurons in spontaneous locomotor activity and in the rewarding responses to cocaine are mediated by glutamate and not by acetylcholine release. Our experiments demonstrate how one population of neurons can use two distinct neurotransmitters to differentially regulate a given circuitry. The data also raise the possibility of using VAChT as a target to boost dopaminergic function and decrease high striatal cholinergic activity, common neurochemical alterations in individuals affected with Parkinson's disease.

06/2011 | Genes Brain Behav   IF 3.5
VAChT knock-down mice show normal prepulse inhibition but disrupted long-term habituation.
Schmid S, Azzopardi E, De Jaeger X, Prado MA, Prado VF

The neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) plays a crucial role in both the central and peripheral nervous system. Central cholinergic transmission is important for cognitive functions and cholinergic disruptions have been associated with different neural disorders. We here tested the role of cholinergic transmission in basic cognitive functions, i.e. in prepulse inhibition (PPI) and short-term habituation (STH) as well as long-term habituation (LTH) of startle using mice with a 65% knockdown (KD) of the vesicular ACh transporter (VAChT). These mice are slow in refilling cholinergic synaptic transmitter vesicles, leading to a reduced cholinergic tone. Prepulse inhibition has been assumed to be mediated by cholinergic projections from the midbrain to the reticular formation. Surprisingly, PPI and STH were normal in these mice, whereas LTH was disrupted. This disruption could be rescued by pre-testing injections of the ACh esterase inhibitor galantamine, but not by post-testing injections. The lack of a PPI deficit might be because of the fact that VAChT KD mice show disruptions mainly in prolonged cholinergic activity, therefore the transient activation by prepulse processing might not be sufficient to deplete synaptic vesicles. The disruption of LTH indicates that the latter depends on a tonic cholinergic inhibition. Future experiments will address which cholinergic cell group is responsible for this effect.

2011 | PLoS ONE   IF 4.1
Novel strains of mice deficient for the vesicular acetylcholine transporter: insights on transcriptional regulation and control of locomotor behavior.
Martins-Silva C, De Jaeger X, Guzman MS, Lima RD, Santos MS, Kushmerick C, Gomez MV, Caron MG, Prado MA, Prado VF

Defining the contribution of acetylcholine to specific behaviors has been challenging, mainly because of the difficulty in generating suitable animal models of cholinergic dysfunction. We have recently shown that, by targeting the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) gene, it is possible to generate genetically modified mice with cholinergic deficiency. Here we describe novel VAChT mutant lines. VAChT gene is embedded within the first intron of the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) gene, which provides a unique arrangement and regulation for these two genes. We generated a VAChT allele that is flanked by loxP sequences and carries the resistance cassette placed in a ChAT intronic region (FloxNeo allele). We show that mice with the FloxNeo allele exhibit differential VAChT expression in distinct neuronal populations. These mice show relatively intact VAChT expression in somatomotor cholinergic neurons, but pronounced decrease in other cholinergic neurons in the brain. VAChT mutant mice present preserved neuromuscular function, but altered brain cholinergic function and are hyperactive. Genetic removal of the resistance cassette rescues VAChT expression and the hyperactivity phenotype. These results suggest that release of ACh in the brain is normally required to 'turn down' neuronal circuits controlling locomotion.

10/2009 | Mol Cell Biol
The vesicular acetylcholine transporter is required for neuromuscular development and function.
de Castro BM*, De-Jaeger X*, Martins-Silva C, Lima RD, Amaral E, Menezes C, Lima P, Neves CM, Pires RG, Gould TW, Welch I, Kushmerick C, Guatimosim C, Izquierdo I, Cammarota M, Rylett RJ, Gomez MV, Caron MG, Oppenheim RW, Prado MA, Prado VF

The vesicular acetylcholine (ACh) transporter (VAChT) mediates ACh storage by synaptic vesicles. However, the VAChT-independent release of ACh is believed to be important during development. Here we generated VAChT knockout mice and tested the physiological relevance of the VAChT-independent release of ACh. Homozygous VAChT knockout mice died shortly after birth, indicating that VAChT-mediated storage of ACh is essential for life. Indeed, synaptosomes obtained from brains of homozygous knockouts were incapable of releasing ACh in response to depolarization. Surprisingly, electrophysiological recordings at the skeletal-neuromuscular junction show that VAChT knockout mice present spontaneous miniature end-plate potentials with reduced amplitude and frequency, which are likely the result of a passive transport of ACh into synaptic vesicles. Interestingly, VAChT knockouts exhibit substantial increases in amounts of choline acetyltransferase, high-affinity choline transporter, and ACh. However, the development of the neuromuscular junction in these mice is severely affected. Mutant VAChT mice show increases in motoneuron and nerve terminal numbers. End plates are large, nerves exhibit abnormal sprouting, and muscle is necrotic. The abnormalities are similar to those of mice that cannot synthesize ACh due to a lack of choline acetyltransferase. Our results indicate that VAChT is essential to the normal development of motor neurons and the release of ACh.

02/2009 | Genes Brain Behav
Reduced expression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter causes learning deficits in mice.
de Castro BM, Pereira GS, Magalhaes V, Rossato JI, De Jaeger X, Martins-Silva C, Leles B, Lima P, Gomez MV, Gainetdinov RR, Caron MG, Izquierdo I, Cammarota M, Prado VF, Prado MA

Storage of acetylcholine in synaptic vesicles plays a key role in maintaining cholinergic function. Here we used mice with a targeted mutation in the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) gene that reduces transporter expression by 40% to investigate cognitive processing under conditions of VAChT deficiency. Motor skill learning in the rotarod revealed that VAChT mutant mice were slower to learn this task, but once they reached maximum performance they were indistinguishable from wild-type mice. Interestingly, motor skill performance maintenance after 10 days was unaffected in these mutant mice. We also tested whether reduced VAChT levels affected learning in an object recognition memory task. We found that VAChT mutant mice presented a deficit in memory encoding necessary for the temporal order version of the object recognition memory, but showed no alteration in spatial working memory, or spatial memory in general when tested in the Morris water maze test. The memory deficit in object recognition memory observed in VAChT mutant mice could be reversed by cholinesterase inhibitors, suggesting that learning deficits caused by reduced VAChT expression can be ameliorated by restoring ACh levels in the synapse. These data indicate an important role for cholinergic tone in motor learning and object recognition memory.

06/2008 | Eur J Neurosci
Protein degradation, as with protein synthesis, is required during not only long-term spatial memory consolidation but also reconsolidation.
Artinian J, McGauran AM, De Jaeger X, Mouledous L, Frances B, Roullet P

The formation of long-term memory requires protein synthesis, particularly during initial memory consolidation. This process also seems to be dependant upon protein degradation, particularly degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The aim of this study was to investigate the temporal requirement of protein synthesis and degradation during the initial consolidation of allocentric spatial learning. As memory returns to a labile state during reactivation, we also focus on the role of protein synthesis and degradation during memory reconsolidation of this spatial learning. Male CD1 mice were submitted to massed training in the spatial version of the Morris water maze. At various time intervals after initial acquisition or after a reactivation trial taking place 24 h after acquisition, mice received an injection of either the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin or the protein degradation inhibitor lactacystin. This injection was performed into the hippocampal CA3 region, which is specifically implicated in the processing of spatial information. Results show that, in the CA3 hippocampal region, consolidation of an allocentric spatial learning task requires two waves of protein synthesis taking place immediately and 4 h after acquisition, whereas reconsolidation requires only the first wave. However, for protein degradation, both consolidation and reconsolidation require only one wave, taking place immediately after acquisition or reactivation, respectively. These findings suggest that protein degradation is a key step for memory reconsolidation, as for consolidation. Moreover, as protein synthesis-dependent reconsolidation occurred faster than consolidation, reconsolidation did not consist of a simple repetition of the initial consolidation.

Our understanding of the memory reconsolidation process is at an earlier stage than that of consolidation. For example, it is unclear if, as for memory consolidation, reconsolidation of a memory trace necessitates protein synthesis. In fact, conflicting results appear in the literature and this discrepancy may be due to differences in the experimental reactivation procedure. Here, we addressed the question of whether protein synthesis in the CA3 hippocampal region is crucial in memory consolidation and reconsolidation of allocentric knowledge after reactivation in different experimental conditions in the Morris water maze. We showed (1) that an injection of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin in the CA3 region during consolidation or after a single reactivation trial disrupted performance and (2) that protein synthesis is required even after a simple contextual reactivation without any learning trial and independently of the presence of the reinforcement. This work demonstrates that a simple exposure to the spatial environment is sufficient to reactivate the memory trace, to make it labile, and that reconsolidation of this trace requires de novo protein synthesis.