Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN

Role of AP-2alpha transcription factor in the regulation of synapsin II gene expression by dopamine D1 and D2 receptors.

PMID 19842069


Synapsins are a family of neuron-specific phosphoproteins involved in synaptic vesicle docking, synaptogenesis, and synaptic plasticity. Previous studies have reported an increase in synapsin II protein by dopaminergic agents in the striatum, medial prefrontal cortex, and nucleus accumbens. This study investigated the mechanistic pathway involved in synapsin II regulation by dopaminergic drugs using primary midbrain neurons to determine which of several transcription factors regulates synapsin II expression. Protein kinase A (PKA) participation in the signaling pathway was examined using selective PKA inhibitors, which reduced synapsin II expression in cell cultures while dopaminergic agents were unable to increase synapsin II in the presence of the PKA inhibitor. Transcription factor involvement was further investigated using separate cultures treated with antisense deoxyoligonucleotides (ADONs) against the following transcription factors: activating protein 2 alpha (AP-2alpha), early growth response factor 1 (EGR-1), or polyoma enhancer activator-3 (PEA-3). Selective knockdown of AP-2alpha by ADONs reduced synapsin II levels, whereas treatment with EGR-1 and PEA-3 ADONs did not affect synapsin II expression. Furthermore, dopaminergic agents were no longer able to influence synapsin II concentrations following AP-2alpha knockdown. Collectively, these results indicate that a cyclic adenosine-3',5'-monophosphate/PKA-dependent mechanism involving the AP-2alpha transcription factor is likely responsible for the increase in neuronal synapsin II following dopamine D1 receptor stimulation or dopamine D2 receptor inhibition.