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Concept: Second messenger system


Infection-triggered disease onset, chronic immune activation and autonomic dysregulation in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) point to an autoimmune disease directed against neurotransmitter receptors. We had observed elevated autoantibodies against ß2 adrenergic receptors, and muscarinic 3 and 4 acetylcholine receptors in a subset of patients. Immunoadsorption (IA) was shown to be effective in removing autoantibodies and improve outcome in various autoimmune diseases.

Concepts: Autoimmune diseases, Norepinephrine, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Second messenger system, Neurotransmitter, Immune system, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor


Rationale: Critically ill patients frequently develop neuropsychological disturbances including acute delirium or memory impairment. The need for mechanical ventilation is as a risk factor for these adverse events, but a mechanism that links lung stretch and brain injury has not been identified. Objetives: To identify the mechanisms that lead to brain dysfunction during mechanical ventilation. Methods: Brains from mechanically ventilated mice were harvested, and signals of apoptosis and alterations in the Akt survival pathway studied. These measurements were repeated in vagotomized or haloperidol-treated mice, and in animals intracerebroventricullarly injected with selective dopamine-receptor blockers. Hippocampal slices were cultured and treated with micromolar concentrations of dopamine, with or without dopamine-receptor blockers. Finally, levels of dysbindin, a regulator of the membrane availability of dopamine receptors, were assessed in the experimental model and in brain samples from ventilated patients. Measurements and Main Results: Mechanical ventilation triggers hippocampal apoptosis as a result of type-2 dopamine receptor activation in response to vagal signaling. Activation of these receptors blocks the Akt/GSK3β prosurvival pathway and activates the apoptotic cascade, as demonstrated in vivo and in vitro. Vagotomy, systemic haloperidol or intracerebroventricular raclopride (a type-2 dopamine receptor blocker) ameliorated this effect. Moreover, ventilation induced a concomitant change in the expression of dysbindin-1C. These results were confirmed in brain samples from ventilated patients. Conclusions: These results prove the existence of a pathogenetic mechanism of lung stretch-induced hippocampal apoptosis that could explain the neurological changes in ventilated patients and may help to identify novel therapeutic approaches.

Concepts: Brain, Antipsychotic, Signal transduction, Second messenger system, Traumatic brain injury, Haloperidol, Dopamine receptor, Dopamine


The second messengers involved in the signal transduction for Schistocerca gregaria, ion transport peptide (Schgr-ITP) that regulates ion and fluid transport across the ileum of the desert locust S. gregaria, were measured using competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Synthetic Schgr-ITP elevates intracellular levels of both cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP, measured over a 15min period in the presence of 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, crude corpora cardiaca (CC) extracts elevate intracellular cyclic AMP levels 2-fold greater than Schgr-ITP, suggesting that factors present in the CC, other than Schgr-ITP, also act via this second messenger. These results suggest that the interaction of Schgr-ITP with two separate receptors, most likely a G-protein coupled receptor and a membrane bound guanylate cyclase, elevates intracellular levels of cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP to regulate ion and fluid transport across the locust ileum. Cyclic AMP stimulates Cl(-), K(+) and Na(+) reabsorption, whereas secretion of H(+) into the lumen of the ileum is most likely mediated via cyclic GMP. Cyclic GMP also stimulates Cl(-) uptake in a similar manner to cyclic AMP. The measurement of tissue (central nervous system) levels of Schgr-ITP using an indirect ELISA confirms that the peptide is only present in the locust brain and the CC. The amounts present are greatest in the CC, where the peptide is presumably stored for release into the hemolymph when locusts feed.

Concepts: G protein-coupled receptor, Second messenger system, Nervous system, Cell membrane, Locust, ELISA, Desert locust, Signal transduction


We carried out dynamic [18F]fallypride PET scans to measure cerebral dopamine D2/3 receptor availability in a 23-year old patient experiencing a severe withdrawal syndrome upon voluntary abstinence from “Spice”, a pre-packaged herbal smoking thought to contain synthetic cannabinoids. Upon admission to the clinic, the patient experienced craving, affective symptoms and a range of somatic complaints, which resolved after several days' monitored abstinence. PET scans were performed on the day of admission, and one week later. Estimates of [18F]fallypride binding potential (BPND) were obtained in striatal and extrastriatal brain regions, and compared to results of age-matched healthy control subjects. Upon admission, [18F]fallypride BPND was reduced by 20% in the patient’s striatum and also in extra-striatal regions. During short-term follow-up upon detoxification, the BPND increased to normal values. This study shows substantial short-term alterations of dopamine D2/3 receptor availability in a patient before and after acute detoxification from “Spice Gold”, thus providing first evidence of reversible effects on dopamine receptors of heavy use of a herbal smoking blend.

Concepts: Ventral tegmental area, HU-210, Striatum, Cannabinoid, Dopamine, Second messenger system, Nicotine, Addiction


Prior studies have shown that aversive olfactory memory is acquired by dopamine acting on a specific receptor, dDA1, expressed by mushroom body neurons. Active forgetting is mediated by dopamine acting on another receptor, Damb, expressed by the same neurons. Surprisingly, prior studies have shown that both receptors stimulate cyclic AMP (cAMP) accumulation, presenting an enigma of how mushroom body neurons distinguish between acquisition and forgetting signals. Here, we surveyed the spectrum of G protein coupling of dDA1 and Damb, and we confirmed that both receptors can couple to Gs to stimulate cAMP synthesis. However, the Damb receptor uniquely activates Gq to mobilize Ca(2+) signaling with greater efficiency and dopamine sensitivity. The knockdown of Gαq with RNAi in the mushroom bodies inhibits forgetting but has no effect on acquisition. Our findings identify a Damb/Gq-signaling pathway that stimulates forgetting and resolves the opposing effects of dopamine on acquisition and forgetting.

Concepts: Neurotransmitter, Cell signaling, Protein, Amphetamine, Second messenger system, Serotonin, Dopamine, Signal transduction


Adenylate cyclases convert intra- and extracellular stimuli into a second messenger cAMP signal. Many bacterial and most eukaryotic ACs possess membrane anchors with six transmembrane spans. We replaced the anchor of the AC Rv1625c by the quorum-sensing receptor from Vibrio harveyi which has an identical 6TM design and obtained an active, membrane-anchored AC. We show that a canonical class III AC is ligand-regulated in vitro and in vivo. At 10 µM, the cholera-autoinducer CAI-1 stimulates activity 4.8-fold. A sequence based clustering of membrane domains of class III ACs and quorum-sensing receptors established six groups of potential structural and functional similarities. The data support the notion that 6TM AC membrane domains may operate as receptors which directly regulate AC activity as opposed and in addition to the indirect regulation by GPCRs in eukaryotic congeners. This adds a completely novel dimension of potential AC regulation in bacteria and vertebrates.

Concepts: In vitro, Vibrio harveyi, Protein, DNA, Bioluminescence, Cell membrane, Second messenger system, Bacteria


Excessive playing of computer games like some other behaviors could lead to addiction. Addictive behaviors may induce their reinforcing effects through stimulation of the brain dopaminergic mesolimbic pathway. The status of dopamine receptors in the brain may be parallel to their homologous receptors in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). Here, we have investigated the mRNA expression of dopamine D3, D4 and D5 receptors in PBLs of computer game addicts (n = 20) in comparison to normal subjects (n = 20), using a real-time PCR method. The results showed that the expression level of D3 and D4 dopamine receptors in computer game addicts were not statistically different from the control group. However, the expression of the mRNA of D5 dopamine receptor was significantly down-regulated in PBLs of computer game addicts and reached 0.42 the amount of the control group. It is concluded that unlike with drug addiction, the expression levels of the D3 and D4 dopamine receptors in computer game addicts are not altered compared to the control group. However, reduced level of the D5 dopamine receptor in computer game addicts may serve as a peripheral marker in studies where the confounding effects of abused drugs are unwanted.

Concepts: Second messenger system, Antipsychotic, Ventral tegmental area, Dopamine receptor, Mesolimbic pathway, Drug addiction, Addiction, Dopamine


Many young adolescents are embedded in neighborhoods, schools, and homes where alcohol and drugs are frequently used. However, little is known about (a) how witnessing others' substance use affects adolescents in their daily lives and (b) which adolescents will be most affected. The current study used ecological momentary assessment with 151 young adolescents (ages 11-15) to examine the daily association between witnessing substance use and antisocial behavior across 38 consecutive days. Results from multilevel logistic regression models indicated that adolescents were more likely to engage in antisocial behavior on days when they witnessed others using substances, an association that held when substance use was witnessed inside the home as well as outside the home (e.g., at school or in their neighborhoods). A significant Gene × Environment interaction suggested that the same-day association between witnessing substance use and antisocial behavior was significantly stronger among adolescents with, versus without, the dopamine receptor D4 seven repeat (DRD4-7R) allele. The implications of the findings for theory and research related to adolescent antisocial behavior are discussed.

Concepts: Second messenger system, Affect, Antisocial personality disorder, Logistic regression, Regression analysis, Dopamine receptor D4, Dopamine receptor


Integration of open access, curated, high-quality information from multiple disciplines in the Life and Biomedical Sciences provides a holistic understanding of the domain. Additionally, the effective linking of diverse data sources can unearth hidden relationships and guide potential research strategies. However, given the lack of consistency between descriptors and identifiers used in different resources and the absence of a simple mechanism to link them, gathering and combining relevant, comprehensive information from diverse databases remains a challenge. The Open Pharmacological Concepts Triple Store (Open PHACTS) is an Innovative Medicines Initiative project that uses semantic web technology approaches to enable scientists to easily access and process data from multiple sources to solve real-world drug discovery problems. The project draws together sources of publicly-available pharmacological, physicochemical and biomolecular data, represents it in a stable infrastructure and provides well-defined information exploration and retrieval methods. Here, we highlight the utility of this platform in conjunction with workflow tools to solve pharmacological research questions that require interoperability between target, compound, and pathway data. Use cases presented herein cover 1) the comprehensive identification of chemical matter for a dopamine receptor drug discovery program 2) the identification of compounds active against all targets in the Epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB) signaling pathway that have a relevance to disease and 3) the evaluation of established targets in the Vitamin D metabolism pathway to aid novel Vitamin D analogue design. The example workflows presented illustrate how the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform can be used to exploit existing knowledge and generate new hypotheses in the process of drug discovery.

Concepts: Second messenger system, Semantic Web, Pharmacology, Immune system, Signal transduction, Growth factor, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor


In preclinical studies, endothelin receptor A (ETA) antagonists (ETAi) attenuated the progression of heart failure (HF). However, clinical HF trials failed to demonstrate beneficial effects of ETAi. These conflicting data may be explained by the possibility that established HF drugs such as adrenergic receptor blockers interfered with the mechanism of ETAi action in clinical trials. Here we report that mice lacking ETA only in sympathetic neurons (SN-KO) showed less adverse structural remodeling and cardiac dysfunction in response to pathological pressure overload induced by transverse aortic constriction (TAC). In contrast, mice lacking ETA only in cardiomyocytes (CM-KO) were not protected. TAC led to a disturbed sympathetic nerve function as measured by cardiac norepinephrine (NE) tissue levels and [(124)I]-metaiodobenzylguanidine-PET, which was prevented in SN-KO. In a rat model of HF, ETAi improved cardiac and sympathetic nerve function. In cocultures of cardiomyocytes (CMs) and sympathetic neurons (SNs), endothelin-1 (ET1) led to a massive NE release and exaggerated CM hypertrophy compared with CM monocultures. ETA-deficient CMs gained a hypertrophic response through wild-type SNs, but ETA-deficient SNs failed to mediate exaggerated CM hypertrophy. Furthermore, ET1 mediated its effects indirectly via NE in CM-SN cocultures through adrenergic receptors and histone deacetylases, resulting in activation of the prohypertrophic transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2. In conclusion, sympathetic ETA amplifies ET1 effects on CMs through adrenergic signaling pathways. Thus, antiadrenergic therapies may blunt potentially beneficial effects of ETAi. Taken together, this may indicate that patients with β blocker intolerance or disturbed sympathetic nerve function could be evaluated for a potential benefit from ETAi.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Histone deacetylase, Sympathetic nervous system, Second messenger system, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Beta blocker, Adrenergic receptor