The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays critical roles in emotional behaviors, including aversive learning. Aversive stimuli such as an electric foot shock increase acetylcholine (ACh) in the NAc, and muscarinic signaling appears to increase neuronal excitability and aversive learning. Muscarinic signaling inhibits the voltage-dependent potassium KCNQ current which regulates neuronal excitability, but the regulatory mechanism has not been fully elucidated. Phosphorylation of KCNQ2 at threonine 217 (T217) and its inhibitory effect on channel activity were predicted. However, whether and how muscarinic signaling phosphorylates KCNQ2 in vivo remains unclear. Here, we found that PKC directly phosphorylated KCNQ2 at T217 in vitro. Carbachol and a muscarinic M1 receptor (M1R) agonist facilitated KCNQ2 phosphorylation at T217 in NAc/striatum slices in a PKC-dependent manner. Systemic administration of the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil, which is commonly used to treat dementia, and electric foot shock to mice induced the phosphorylation of KCNQ2 at T217 in the NAc, whereas phosphorylation was suppressed by an M1R antagonist. Conditional deletion of Kcnq2 in the NAc enhanced electric foot shock induced aversive learning. Our findings indicate that muscarinic signaling induces the phosphorylation of KCNQ2 at T217 via PKC activation for aversive learning. (Figure presented.).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience