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Dopamine transporter and vesicular monoamine transporter knockout mice : implications for Parkinson's disease

Dopamine transporter and vesicular monoamine transporter knockout mice : implications for Parkinson's disease

Methods in Molecular Medicine 62: 179-190

One of the most valuable methods for understanding the function of a particular protein is the generation of animals that have had the gene encoding for the protein of interest disrupted, commonly known as a "quo;knockout"quo; or null mutant. By incorporating a sequence of DNA (typically encoding antibiotic resistance to aid in the selection of the mutant gene) into embryonic stem cells by homologous recombination, the normal transcription of the gene is effectively blocked (Fig. 1). Since a particular protein is encoded by two copies of a gene, it is necessary to have the gene on both alleles "quo;knocked out."quo; This is performed by cross-breeding animals with one affected allele (heterozygote) to generate offspring that have inherited two mutant alleles (homozygote). This procedure has been used to generate animals lacking either the plasma membrane dopamine transporter (DAT; Fig. 2) or the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2; Fig. 3). Both DAT and VMAT2 are essential for dopamine homeostasis and are thought to participate in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (1-5). Fig. 1. Maps of the targeting vector and the mock construct. The mouse genomic fragment (clone 11) was isolated from a Stratagene 129 SvJ library by standard colony hybridization using a PCR probe from the 5' end of rat cDNA. The restriction site abbreviations are as follows: H, HindIII; N, NotI; Sc, SacI; Sn, SnaI; X, XbaI; and Xh, XhoI. The region between HindIII and SnaI on clone 11 containing the coding sequence from transmembrane domains 3 and 4 of VMAT2 was deleted and replaced with PGK-neo. The 3' fragment of clone 11 was reserved as an external probe for Southern analysis. To facilitate PCR screening of embryonic stem cell clones, a mock construct containing the SnaI/XbaI fragment and part of the Neo cassette was generated as a positive control. pPNT and pGEM4Z were used to construct knockout and mock vectors, respectively. (Reproduced with permission from ref. 1). Fig. 2. DAT and VMAT2 expression in wild-type and DAT knockout midbrain. DAT immunoreactivity in wild-type (A) and DAT knockout midbrain (B). VMAT2 immunoreactivity in wild-type (C) and DAT knockout midbrain (D). Robust immunoreactivity was observed in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra pars compacta and reticulata in the wild-type brain. Note absence of DAT immunoreactivity and modest reduction of VMAT2 immunoreactivity in the DAT knockout. Fig. 3. Characterization of VMAT2 gene disruption. (A) Southern blot analysis of mouse genomic DNA. The Southern blot was prepared with 15 μg of genomic DNA per lane and probed with a 1.4-kb 3' external genomic fragment. +/+, wild type littermates; +/-, heterozygote; -/-, homozygote. (B) RT-PCR analysis of mouse brain poly(A)+ RNA. For each reverse transcription assay, 0.5 μg of poly(A)+ RNA was used. Equal volumes of cDNA templates were used for each PCR assay. The PCR primers used flank the neomycin cassette for the purpose of detecting potential readthrough of the neomycin DNA. The heterozygote has a reduced amount of transcripts compared with the wild-type littermate; the homozygote is devoid of VMAT2 transcripts. G3PDH was used as internal control. (C) Western blot analysis of wholebrain synaptic vesicles. Samples (25 μg) of vesicles were solubilized and separated by SDS-PAGE, transferred to nitrocellulose, subjected to Western blot analysis with anti-VMAT2-Ct (top) or anti-a-tubulin (bottom) antibodies, and developed with chemiluminescence. Molecular mass markers (kDa) are shown to the left. To confirm equal loading and transfer of proteins, the blots were stripped and reprobed with an antibody to α-tubulin. (Reproduced with permission from ref. 1). The importance of DAT in neuronal function is highlighted in animals in which DAT has been genetically deleted (DAT KO) (3). In the homozygote DAT KO mice, released dopamine remains in the extracellular space up to 300 times longer than normal. As expected, these animals display behaviors consistent with persistent activation of dopamine receptors, such as hyperlocomotion. Genetic deletion of VMAT2 reveals the essential role of vesicular storage and release of monoamines. Homozygote VMAT2 knockout mice survive for only a few days, whereas heterozygotes appear normal. Studies performed in homozygote pups and heterozygote adults clearly show that the level of VMAT2 expression calibrates the level of vesicular filling (1,2,bi4). With only 50% of normal VMAT2, heterozygote animals have reduced vesicular filling and release. These alterations in presynaptic monoamine function in the heterozygotes are thought to be responsible for the observed sensitization to the psychostimulants cocaine and amphetamine and to ethanol (1). Knockout animals also appear to parallel the changes that occur in reserpinized animals, suggesting that the adverse actions of this drug are mediated by VMAT2.

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Accession: 052701512

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PMID: 21318776

DOI: 10.1385/1-59259-142-6:179

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