Role for the Membrane Receptor Guanylyl Cyclase-C in Attention Deficiency and Hyperactive Behavior

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Science  11 Aug 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207675


Midbrain dopamine neurons regulate many important behavioral processes, and their dysfunctions are associated with several human neuropsychiatric disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. Here, we report that these neurons in mice selectively express guanylyl cyclase-C (GC-C), a membrane receptor previously thought to be expressed mainly in the intestine. GC-C activation potentiates the excitatory responses mediated by glutamate and acetylcholine receptors via the activity of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). GC-C knockout mice exhibit hyperactivity and attention deficits. Moreover, their behavioral phenotypes are reversed by ADHD therapeutics and a PKG activator. These results indicate important behavioral and physiological functions for the GC-C/PKG signaling pathway within the brain and suggest new therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric disorders related to the malfunctions of midbrain dopamine neurons.