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All basal ganglia subnuclei have recently been identified in lampreys, the phylogenetically oldest group of vertebrates. Furthermore, the interconnectivity of these nuclei is similar to mammals and tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (dopaminergic) fibers have been detected within the input layer, the striatum. Striatal processing is critically dependent on the interplay with the dopamine system, and we explore here whether D2 receptors are expressed in the lamprey striatum and their potential role. We have identified a cDNA encoding the dopamine D2 receptor from the lamprey brain and the deduced protein sequence showed close phylogenetic relationship with other vertebrate D2 receptors, and an almost 100% identity within the transmembrane domains containing the amino acids essential for dopamine binding. There was a strong and distinct expression of D2 receptor mRNA in a subpopulation of striatal neurons, and in the same region tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive synaptic terminals were identified at the ultrastructural level. The synaptic incidence of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive boutons was highest in a region ventrolateral to the compact layer of striatal neurons, a region where most striatal dendrites arborise. Application of a D2 receptor agonist modulates striatal neurons by causing a reduced spike discharge and a diminished post-inhibitory rebound. We conclude that the D2 receptor gene had already evolved in the earliest group of vertebrates, cyclostomes, when they diverged from the main vertebrate line of evolution (560 mya), and that it is expressed in striatum where it exerts similar cellular effects to that in other vertebrates. These results together with our previous published data (Stephenson-Jones et al. 2011, 2012) further emphasize the high degree of conservation of the basal ganglia, also with regard to the indirect loop, and its role as a basic mechanism for action selection in all vertebrates.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0035642

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2012

Volume

7

Keywords

Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Corpus Striatum, Evolution, Molecular, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Lampreys, Male, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Protein Structure, Tertiary, RNA, Messenger, Receptors, Dopamine D2, Sequence Alignment, Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase