Transient and selective overexpression of dopamine D2 receptors in the striatum causes persistent abnormalities in prefrontal cortex functioning
Receptors, Dopamine D2
Increased activity of D2 receptors (D2Rs) in the striatum has been linked to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. To determine directly the behavioral and physiological consequences of increased D2R function in the striatum, we generated mice with reversibly increased levels of D2Rs restricted to the striatum. D2 transgenic mice exhibit selective cognitive impairments in working memory tasks and behavioral flexibility without more general cognitive deficits. The deficit in the working memory task persists even after the transgene has been switched off, indicating that it results not from continued overexpression of D2Rs but from excess expression during development. To determine the effects that may mediate the observed cognitive deficits, we analyzed the prefrontal cortex, the brain structure mainly associated with working memory. We found that D2R overexpression in the striatum impacts dopamine levels, rates of dopamine turnover, and activation of D1 receptors in the prefrontal cortex, measures that are critical for working memory.