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Substantia nigra dopamine neurons have been implicated in the initiation and invigoration of movement, presumably through their modulation of striatal projection neuron (SPN) activity. However, the impact of native dopaminergic transmission on SPN excitability has not been directly demonstrated. Using perforated patch-clamp recording, we found that optogenetic stimulation of nigrostriatal dopamine axons rapidly and persistently elevated the excitability of D1 receptor-expressing SPNs (D1-SPNs). The evoked firing of D1-SPNs increased within hundreds of milliseconds of stimulation and remained elevated for ≥ 10 min. Consistent with the negative modulation of depolarization- and Ca2+-activated K+ currents, dopaminergic transmission accelerated subthreshold depolarization in response to current injection, reduced the latency to fire, and transiently diminished action potential afterhyperpolarization. Persistent modulation was protein kinase A dependent and associated with a reduction in action potential threshold. Together, these data demonstrate that dopaminergic transmission potently increases D1-SPN excitability with a time course that could support subsecond and sustained behavioral control. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Asha K Lahiri, Mark D Bevan. Dopaminergic Transmission Rapidly and Persistently Enhances Excitability of D1 Receptor-Expressing Striatal Projection Neurons. Neuron. 2020 Apr 22;106(2):277-290.e6

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PMID: 32075716

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