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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 35, Issue 45, November 2015, Pages 14983-14999.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2124-15.2015. Copyright © Society for Neuroscience


UNLABELLED: The striatum is essential for many aspects of mammalian behavior, including motivation and movement, and is dysfunctional in motor disorders such as Parkinson's disease. The vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3) is expressed by striatal cholinergic interneurons (CINs) and is thus well positioned to regulate dopamine (DA) signaling and locomotor activity, a canonical measure of basal ganglia output. We now report that VGLUT3 knock-out (KO) mice show circadian-dependent hyperlocomotor activity that is restricted to the waking cycle and is due to an increase in striatal DA synthesis, packaging, and release. Using a conditional VGLUT3 KO mouse, we show that deletion of the transporter from CINs, surprisingly, does not alter evoked DA release in the dorsal striatum or baseline locomotor activity. The mice do, however, display changes in rearing behavior and sensorimotor gating. Elevation of DA release in the global KO raised the possibility that motor deficits in a Parkinson's disease model would be reduced. Remarkably, after a partial 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-mediated DA depletion (∼70% in dorsal striatum), KO mice, in contrast to WT mice, showed normal motor behavior across the entire circadian cycle. l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine-mediated dyskinesias were also significantly attenuated. These findings thus point to new mechanisms to regulate basal ganglia function and potentially treat Parkinson's disease and related disorders.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Dopaminergic signaling is critical for both motor and cognitive functions in the mammalian nervous system. Impairments, such as those found in Parkinson's disease patients, can lead to severe motor deficits. Vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3) loads glutamate into secretory vesicles for neurotransmission and is expressed by discrete neuron populations throughout the nervous system. Here, we report that the absence of VGLUT3 in mice leads to an upregulation of the midbrain dopamine system. Remarkably, in a Parkinson's disease model, the mice show normal motor behavior. They also show fewer abnormal motor behaviors (dyskinesias) in response to l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, the principal treatment for Parkinson's disease. The work thus suggests new avenues for the development of novel treatment strategies for Parkinson's disease and potentially other basal-ganglia-related disorders.

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