The striatum plays a fundamental role in motor learning and reward-related behaviors that are synergistically shaped by populations of D1 dopamine receptor (D1R)- and D2 dopamine receptor (D2R)-expressing medium spiny neurons (MSNs). How various neurotransmitter inputs converging on common intracellular pathways are parsed out to regulate distinct behavioral outcomes in a neuron-specific manner is poorly understood. Here, we reveal that distinct contributions of D1R-MSNs and D2R-MSNs towards reward and motor behaviors are delineated by the multifaceted signaling protein neurofibromin 1 (NF1). Using genetic mouse models, we show that NF1 in D1R-MSN modulates opioid reward, whereas loss of NF1 in D2R-MSNs delays motor learning by impeding the formation and consolidation of repetitive motor sequences. We found that motor learning deficits upon NF1 loss were associated with the disruption in dopamine signaling to cAMP in D2R-MSN. Restoration of cAMP levels pharmacologically or chemogenetically rescued the motor learning deficits seen upon NF1 loss in D2R-MSN. Our findings illustrate that multiplex signaling capabilities of MSNs are deployed at the level of intracellular pathways to achieve cell-specific control over behavioral outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)