Project description:Chemogenetic tools such as designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) are routinely used to modulate neuronal and non-neuronal signaling and activity in a relatively noninvasive manner. The first generation of DREADDs were templated from the human muscarinic acetylcholine receptor family and are relatively insensitive to the endogenous agonist acetylcholine but instead are activated by clozapine-N-oxide (CNO). Despite the undisputed success of CNO as an activator of muscarinic DREADDs, it has been known for some time that CNO is subject to a low rate of metabolic conversion to clozapine, raising the need for alternative chemical actuators of muscarinic-based DREADDs. Here we show that DREADD agonist 21 (C21) (11-(1-piperazinyl)-5H-dibenzo[b,e][1,4]diazepine) is a potent and selective agonist at both excitatory (hM3Dq) and inhibitory (hM4Di) DREADDs and has excellent bioavailability, pharmacokinetic properties, and brain penetrability. We also show that C21-induced activation of hM3Dq and hM4Di in vivo can modulate bidirectional feeding in defined circuits in mice. These results indicate that C21 represents an alternative to CNO for in vivo studies where metabolic conversion of CNO to clozapine is a concern.
Project description:Over the past decade, two independent technologies have emerged and been widely adopted by the neuroscience community for remotely controlling neuronal activity: optogenetics which utilize engineered channelrhodopsin and other opsins, and chemogenetics which utilize engineered G protein-coupled receptors (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs)) and other orthologous ligand-receptor pairs. Using directed molecular evolution, two types of DREADDs derived from human muscarinic acetylcholine receptors have been developed: hM3Dq which activates neuronal firing, and hM4Di which inhibits neuronal firing. Importantly, these DREADDs were not activated by the native ligand acetylcholine (ACh), but selectively activated by clozapine N-oxide (CNO), a pharmacologically inert ligand. CNO has been used extensively in rodent models to activate DREADDs, and although CNO is not subject to significant metabolic transformation in mice, a small fraction of CNO is apparently metabolized to clozapine in humans and guinea pigs, lessening the translational potential of DREADDs. To effectively translate the DREADD technology, the next generation of DREADD agonists are needed and a thorough understanding of structure-activity relationships (SARs) of DREADDs is required for developing such ligands. We therefore conducted the first SAR studies of hM3Dq. We explored multiple regions of the scaffold represented by CNO, identified interesting SAR trends, and discovered several compounds that are very potent hM3Dq agonists but do not activate the native human M3 receptor (hM3). We also discovered that the approved drug perlapine is a novel hM3Dq agonist with >10 000-fold selectivity for hM3Dq over hM3.
Project description:Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) represent a technical revolution in integrative neuroscience. However, the first used ligands exhibited dose-dependent selectivity for their molecular target, leading to potential unspecific effects. Compound 21 (C21) was recently proposed as an alternative, but in vivo characterization of its properties is not sufficient yet. Here, we evaluated its potency to selectively modulate the activity of nigral dopaminergic (DA) neurons through the canonical DREADD receptor hM4Di using TH-Cre rats. In males, 1 mg.kg-1 of C21 strongly increased nigral neurons activity in control animals, indicative of a significant off-target effect. Reducing the dose to 0.5 mg.kg-1 circumvented this unspecific effect, while activated the inhibitory DREADDs and selectively reduced nigral neurons firing. In females, 0.5 mg.kg-1 of C21 induced a transient and residual off-target effect that may mitigated the inhibitory DREADDs-mediated effect. This study raises up the necessity to test selectivity and efficacy of chosen ligands for each new experimental condition.
Project description:Binge drinking is a dangerous pattern of behavior. We tested whether chronically manipulating nucleus accumbens (NAc) activity (via clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) and Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD)) could produce lasting effects on ethanol binge-like drinking in mice selectively bred to drink to intoxication. We found chronically increasing NAc activity (4 weeks, via CNO and the excitatory DREADD, hM3Dq) decreased binge-like drinking, but did not observe CNO-induced changes in drinking with the inhibitory DREADD, hM4Di. The CNO/hM3Dq-induced reduction in ethanol drinking persisted for at least one week, suggesting adaptive neuroplasticity via transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms. Therefore, we defined this plasticity at the morphological and transcriptomic levels. We found that chronic binge drinking (6 weeks) altered neuronal morphology in the NAc, an effect that was ameliorated with CNO/hM3Dq. Moreover, we detected significant changes in expression of several plasticity-related genes with binge drinking that were ameliorated with CNO treatment (e.g., Hdac4). Lastly, we found that LMK235, an HDAC4/5 inhibitor, reduced binge-like drinking. Thus, we were able to target specific molecular pathways using pharmacology to mimic the behavioral effects of DREADDs.
Project description:The chemogenetic technology DREADD (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) is widely used for remote manipulation of neuronal activity in freely moving animals. DREADD technology posits the use of "designer receptors," which are exclusively activated by the "designer drug" clozapine N-oxide (CNO). Nevertheless, the in vivo mechanism of action of CNO at DREADDs has never been confirmed. CNO does not enter the brain after systemic drug injections and shows low affinity for DREADDs. Clozapine, to which CNO rapidly converts in vivo, shows high DREADD affinity and potency. Upon systemic CNO injections, converted clozapine readily enters the brain and occupies central nervous system-expressed DREADDs, whereas systemic subthreshold clozapine injections induce preferential DREADD-mediated behaviors.
Project description:Despite growing evidence suggesting that spinal microglia play an important role in the molecular mechanism underlying experimental neuropathic pain (NP) in male rodents, evidence regarding the sex-dependent role of these microglia in NP is insufficient. In this study, we evaluated the effects of microglial regulation on NP using Gi-designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (Gi-DREADD) driven by the microglia-specific Cx3cr1 promoter. For the Cre-dependent expression of human Gi-coupled M4 muscarinic receptors (hM4Di) in CX3C chemokine receptor 1-expressing (CX3CR1+) cells, R26-LSL-hM4Di-DREADD mice were crossed with CX3CR1-Cre mice. Mouse models of NP were generated by partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSL) and treatment with anti-cancer agent paclitaxel (PTX) or oxaliplatin (OXA), and mechanical allodynia was evaluated using the von Frey test. Immunohistochemistry revealed that hM4Di was specifically expressed on Iba1+ microglia, but not on astrocytes or neurons in the spinal dorsal horn of CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. PSL-induced mechanical allodynia was significantly attenuated by systemic (intraperitoneal, i.p.) administration of 10 mg/kg of clozapine N-oxide (CNO), a hM4Di-selective ligand, in male CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. The mechanical threshold in naive CX3CR1-hM4Di mice was not altered by i.p. administration of CNO. Consistently, local (intrathecal, i.t.) administration of CNO (20 nmol) significantly relieved PSL-induced mechanical allodynia in male CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. However, neither i.p. nor i.t. administration of CNO affected PSL-induced mechanical allodynia in female CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. Both i.p. and i.t. administration of CNO relieved PTX-induced mechanical allodynia in male CX3CR1-hM4Di mice, and a limited effect of i.p. CNO was observed in female CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. Unlike PTX-induced allodynia, OXA-induced mechanical allodynia was slightly improved, but not significantly relieved, by i.p. administration of CNO in both male and female CX3CR1-hM4Di mice. These results suggest that spinal microglia can be regulated by Gi-DREADD and support the notion that CX3CR1+ spinal microglia play sex-dependent roles in nerve injury-induced NP; however, their roles may vary among different models of NP.
Project description:Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) are an advanced experimental tool that could potentially provide a novel approach to pain management. In particular, expression of an inhibitory (Gi-coupled) DREADD in nociceptors might enable ligand-dependent analgesia. To test this possibility, TRPV1-cre mice were used to restrict expression of Gi-DREADDs to predominantly C-fibers. Whereas baseline heat thresholds in both male and female mice expressing Gi-DREADD were normal, 1 mg/kg clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) produced a significant 3 h increase in heat threshold that returned to baseline by 5 h after injection. Consistent with these behavioral results, CNO decreased action potential firing in isolated sensory neurons from Gi-DREADD mice. Unexpectedly, however, the expression of Gi-DREADD in sensory neurons caused significant changes in voltage-gated Ca2+ and Na+ currents in the absence of CNO, as well as an increase in Na+ channel (NaV1.7) expression. Furthermore, CNO-independent excitatory and inhibitory second-messenger signaling was also altered in these mice, which was associated with a decrease in the analgesic effect of endogenous inhibitory G-protein-coupled receptor activation. These results highlight the potential of this exciting technology, but also its limitations, and that it is essential to identify the underlying mechanisms for any observed behavioral phenotypes.DREADD technology is a powerful tool enabling manipulation of activity and/or transmitter release from targeted cell populations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether inhibitory DREADDs in nociceptive afferents could be used to produce analgesia, and if so, how. DREADD activation produced a ligand-dependent analgesia to heat in vivo and a decrease in neuronal firing at the single-cell level. However, we observed that expression of Gi-DREADD also causes ligand-independent changes in ion channel activity and second-messenger signaling. These findings highlight both the potential and the limitations of this exciting technology as well as the necessity to identify the mechanisms underlying any observed phenotype.
Project description:Hundreds of hormones and ligands stimulate cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling in different tissues through the activation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Although the functions and individual effectors of cAMP signaling are well characterized in many tissues, pleiotropic effects of GPCR agonists limit investigations of physiological functions of cAMP signaling in individual cell types at different developmental stages in vivo To facilitate studies of cAMP signaling in specific cell populations in vivo, we harnessed the power of DREADD (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) technology by creating ROSA26-based knock-in mice for the conditional expression of a Gs-coupled DREADD (rM3Ds-green fluorescent protein [GFP], or "GsD"). After Cre recombinase expression, GsD is activated temporally by the administration of the ligand clozapine N-oxide (CNO). In the same allele, we engineered a CREB-luciferase reporter transgene for noninvasive bioluminescence monitoring of CREB activity. After viral delivery of Cre recombinase to hepatocytes in vivo, GsD is expressed and allows CNO-dependent cAMP signaling and glycogen breakdown. The long-term expression of GsD in the liver results in constitutive CREB activity and hyperglycemia. ROSA26-Gs-DREADD mice can be used to study the physiological effects of cAMP signaling, acute or chronic, in liver or any tissue or cell type for which transgenic or viral Cre drivers are available.
Project description:Pancreatic islets secrete insulin from ? cells and glucagon from ? cells, and dysregulated secretion of these hormones is a central component of diabetes. Thus, an improved understanding of the pathways governing coordinated ? and ? cell hormone secretion will provide insight into islet dysfunction in diabetes. However, the 3D multicellular islet architecture, essential for coordinated islet function, presents experimental challenges for mechanistic studies of intracellular signaling pathways in primary islet cells. Here, we developed an integrated approach to study the function of primary human islet cells using genetically modified pseudoislets that resemble native islets across multiple parameters. Further, we developed a microperifusion system that allowed synchronous acquisition of GCaMP6f biosensor signal and hormone secretory profiles. We demonstrate the utility of this experimental approach by studying the effects of Gi and Gq GPCR pathways on insulin and glucagon secretion by expressing the designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) hM4Di or hM3Dq. Activation of Gi signaling reduced insulin and glucagon secretion, while activation of Gq signaling stimulated glucagon secretion but had both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on insulin secretion, which occur through changes in intracellular Ca2+. The experimental approach of combining pseudoislets with a microfluidic system allowed the coregistration of intracellular signaling dynamics and hormone secretion and demonstrated differences in GPCR signaling pathways between human ? and ? cells.
Project description:Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) are a popular chemogenetic technology for manipulation of neuronal activity in uninstrumented awake animals with potential for human applications as well. The prototypical DREADD agonist clozapine N-oxide (CNO) lacks brain entry and converts to clozapine, making it difficult to apply in basic and translational applications. Here we report the development of two novel DREADD agonists, JHU37152 and JHU37160, and the first dedicated 18F positron emission tomography (PET) DREADD radiotracer, [18F]JHU37107. We show that JHU37152 and JHU37160 exhibit high in vivo DREADD potency. [18F]JHU37107 combined with PET allows for DREADD detection in locally-targeted neurons, and at their long-range projections, enabling noninvasive and longitudinal neuronal projection mapping.