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Neuronal action of vasopressin: what intracellular signaling pathways?

English title Neuronal action of vasopressin: what intracellular signaling pathways?
Applicant Raggenbass Mario Frederico
Number 116570
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Dépt des Neurosciences Fondamentales Faculté de Médecine Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.04.2007 - 30.09.2010
Approved amount 260'000.00
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Keywords (6)

motoneurones; patch clamp; second messager; tranches de cerveau; tronc cerebral vasopressine; brain slices

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Vasopressin is a peptide that acts both as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator. As a hormone, its target organs include kidney, blood vessels, liver, platelets and anterior pituitary. As a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator, vasopressin plays a role in autonomic functions and is involved in complex behavioral functions, such as sexual behavior, pair-bond formation and social recognition. At the neuronal level, vasopressin acts by enhancing membrane excitability and by modulating synaptic transmission. In particular, vasopressin can exert a powerful excitation on facial and hypoglossal motoneurons. These neurons are located in the brainstem, and control the voluntary muscles of the face and the tongue. The excitatory effect of vasopressin is mediated by G protein-coupled receptors, and is due to the opening of membrane channels permeable to sodium. A major unsolved problem is: what is the intracellular signaling pathway responsible for the neuronal action of vasopressin? Preliminary studies from our laboratory indicate that in brainstem motoneurons the intracellular signal activated following vasopressin receptor stimulation is probably different from the second messengers activated by peripheral vasopressin receptors. The main objective of the present research project is the characterization of the intracellular signals linking vasopressin receptors to the sodium channels whose opening is responsible for the peptide-induced excitation. Another important issue will be addressed. What is the exact nature of the sodium channel which is opened following vasopressin binding to its receptors? We will use in vitro preparations of rodent nervous tissue, advanced electrophysiological recording techniques and chemical and biochemical tools capable of interfering with either intracellular signaling pathways or cation channels. Our present project should contribute to clarifying whether signal transduction in central neurons is similar or different from signal transduction in peripheral cells. In addition, advances in the knowledge of signal transduction in neurons can be important in view of clinical applications. Brain vasopressin plays a role in complex behaviors. Knowing the signal transduction pathway activated by central vasopressin receptors may suggest novel approaches in shaping therapies in cases of behavioral disorders.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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