Regulators of G protein signaling are proteins that accelerate the termination of effector stimulation after G protein-coupled receptor activation. Many regulators of G protein signaling proteins are highly expressed in the brain and therefore considered potential drug discovery targets for central nervous system pathologies; for example, here we show that RGS12 is highly expressed in microdissected mouse ventral striatum. Given a role for the ventral striatum in psychostimulant-induced locomotor activity, we tested whether Rgs12 genetic ablation affected behavioral responses to amphetamine and cocaine. RGS12 loss significantly decreased hyperlocomotion to lower doses of both amphetamine and cocaine; however, other outcomes of administration (sensitization and conditioned place preference) were unaffected, suggesting that RGS12 does not function in support of the rewarding properties of these psychostimulants. To test whether observed response changes upon RGS12 loss were caused by changes to dopamine transporter expression and/or function, we prepared crude membranes from the brains of wild-type and RGS12-null mice and measured dopamine transporter-selective [3H]WIN 35428 binding, revealing an increase in dopamine transporter levels in the ventral–but not dorsal–striatum of RGS12-null mice. To address dopamine transporter function, we prepared striatal synaptosomes and measured [3H]dopamine uptake. Consistent with increased [3H]WIN 35428 binding, dopamine transporter-specific [3H]dopamine uptake in RGS12-null ventral striatal synaptosomes was found to be increased. Decreased amphetamine-induced locomotor activity and increased [3H]WIN 35428 binding were recapitulated with an independent RGS12-null mouse strain. Thus, we propose that RGS12 regulates dopamine transporter expression and function in the ventral striatum, affecting amphetamine- and cocaine-induced increases in dopamine levels that specifically elicit acute hyperlocomotor responses.
- dopamine transporter
- regulators of G protein signaling