A novel N-acetyltransferase, Shati/Nat8l, was identified in the nucleus accumbens of mice repeatedly treated with methamphetamine (METH). Shati/Nat8l has been reported to inhibit the pharmacological action induced by METH. Shati/Nat8l produces N-acetylaspartate from aspartate and acetyl-CoA. Previously, we reported that overexpression of Shati/Nat8l in nucleus accumbens attenuates the response to METH by N-acetylaspartylglutamate (which is derived from N-acetylaspartate)-mGluR3 signaling in the mice brain. In the present study, to clarify the type of cells that produce Shati/Nat8l, we carried out in-situ hybridization for the detection of Shati/Nat8l mRNA along with immunohistochemical studies using serial sections of mice brain. Shati/Nat8l mRNA was detected in neuronal cells, but not in astrocytes or microglia cells. Next, we investigated the function of Shati/Nat8l in the neuronal cells in mice brain; then, we used an adeno-associated virus vector containing Shati/Nat8l for transfection and overexpression of Shati/Nat8l protein into the primary cultured neurons to investigate the contribution toward the neuronal activity of Shati/Nat8l. Overexpression of Shati/Nat8l in the mice primary cultured neurons induced axonal growth, but not dendrite elongation at day 1.5 (DIV). This finding indicated that Shati/Nat8l contributes toward neuronal development. LY341495, a selective group II mGluRs antagonist, did not abolish this axonal growth, and N-acetylaspartylglutamate itself did not abolish axon outgrowth in the same cultured system. The cultured neurons overexpressing Shati/Nat8l contained high ATP, suggesting that axon outgrowth is dependent on energy metabolism. This study shows that Shati/Nat8l in the neuron may induce axon outgrowth by ATP synthesis and not through mGluR3 signaling.
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