A novel N-acetyltransferase, Shati/Nat8l, was identified in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of mice with methamphetamine (METH) treatment. Previously we reported that suppression of Shati/Nat8l enhanced METH-induced behavioral alterations via dopaminergic neuronal regulation. However, the physiological mechanisms of Shati/Nat8l on the dopaminergic system in the brain are unclear. In this study, we injected adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector containing Shati/Nat8l into the NAc or dorsal striatum (dS) of mice, to increase Shati/Nat8l expression. Overexpression of Shati/Nat8l in the NAc, but not in the dS, attenuated METH-induced hyperlocomotion, locomotor sensitization, and conditioned place preference in mice. Moreover, the Shati/Nat8l overexpression in the NAc attenuated the elevation of extracellular dopamine levels induced by METH in in vivo microdialysis experiments. These behavioral and neurochemical alterations due to Shati/Nat8l overexpression in the NAc were inhibited by treatment with selective group II metabotropic glutamate receptor type 2 and 3 (mGluR2/3) antagonist LY341495. In the AAV vector-injected NAc, the tissue contents of both N-acetylaspartate and N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG), endogenous mGluR3 agonist, were elevated. The injection of peptidase inhibitor of NAAG or the perfusion of NAAG itself reduced the basal levels of extracellular dopamine in the NAc of naive mice. These results indicate that Shati/Nat8l in the NAc, but not in the dS, plays an important suppressive role in the behavioral responses to METH by controlling the dopaminergic system via activation of group II mGluRs.
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