Derangement of ras-guanine nucleotide-releasing factor 1 (Ras-GRF1) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) dependent striatal plasticity in L-DOPA-Induced dyskinesia

Milica Cerovic, Vincenza Bagetta, Valentina Pendolino, Veronica Ghiglieri, Stefania Fasano, Ilaria Morella, Neil Hardingham, Andreas Heuer, Alessandro Papale, Francesca Marchisella, Carmela Giampà, Paolo Calabresi, Barbara Picconi, Riccardo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Bidirectional long-term plasticity at the corticostriatal synapse has been proposed as a central cellular mechanism governing dopamine-mediated behavioral adaptations in the basal ganglia system. Balanced activity of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the direct and the indirect pathways is essential for normal striatal function. This balance is disrupted in Parkinson's disease and in l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA)-induced dyskinesia (LID), a common motor complication of current pharmacotherapy of Parkinson's disease.

Methods Electrophysiological recordings were performed in mouse cortico-striatal slice preparation. Synaptic plasticity, such as long-term potentiation (LTP) and depotentiation, was investigated. Specific pharmacological inhibitors or genetic manipulations were used to modulate the Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Ras-ERK) pathway, a signal transduction cascade implicated in behavioral plasticity, and synaptic activity in different subpopulations of striatal neurons was measured.

Results We found that the Ras-ERK pathway, is not only essential for long-term potentiation induced with a high frequency stimulation protocol (HFS-LTP) in the dorsal striatum, but also for its reversal, synaptic depotentiation. Ablation of Ras-guanine nucleotide-releasing factor 1 (Ras-GRF1), a neuronal activator of Ras proteins, causes a specific loss of HFS-LTP in the medium spiny neurons in the direct pathway without affecting LTP in the indirect pathway. Analysis of LTP in animals with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions (6-OHDA) rendered dyskinetic with chronic L-DOPA treatment reveals a complex, Ras-GRF1 and pathway-independent, apparently stochastic involvement of ERK.

Conclusions These data not only demonstrate a central role for Ras-ERK signaling in striatal LTP, depotentiation, and LTP restored after L-DOPA treatment but also disclose multifaceted synaptic adaptations occurring in response to dopaminergic denervation and pulsatile administration of L-DOPA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2015


  • Depotentiation
  • L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia
  • Long-term depression (LTD)
  • Long-term potentiation (LTP)
  • Ras-ERK signaling
  • Ras-GRF1
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Medicine(all)


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