The European journal of neuroscience

Cellular prion protein is present in dopaminergic neurons and modulates the dopaminergic system.

PMID 24766164


Cellular prion protein (PrP(C) ) is widely expressed in the brain. Although the precise role of PrP(C) remains uncertain, it has been proposed to be a pivotal modulator of neuroplasticity events by regulating the glutamatergic and serotonergic systems. Here we report the existence of neurochemical and functional interactions between PrP(C) and the dopaminergic system. PrP(C) was found to co-localize with dopaminergic neurons and in dopaminergic synapses in the striatum. Furthermore, the genetic deletion of PrP(C) down-regulated dopamine D1 receptors and DARPP-32 density in the striatum and decreased dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of mice. This indicates that PrP(C) affects the homeostasis of the dopaminergic system by interfering differently in different brain areas with dopamine synthesis, content, receptor density and signaling pathways. This interaction between PrP(C) and the dopaminergic system prompts the hypotheses that the dopaminergic system may be implicated in some pathological features of prion-related diseases and, conversely, that PrP(C) may play a role in dopamine-associated brain disorders.