Cell-type-specific disruption of PERK-eIF2α signaling in dopaminergic neurons alters motor and cognitive function

Francesco Longo, Maria Mancini, Pierre L. Ibraheem, Sameer Aryal, Caterina Mesini, Jyoti C. Patel, Elena Penhos, Nazia Rahman, Maggie Mamcarz, Emanuela Santini, Margaret E. Rice, Eric Klann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) has been shown to activate the eIF2α kinase PERK to directly regulate translation initiation. Tight control of PERK-eIF2α signaling has been shown to be necessary for normal long-lasting synaptic plasticity and cognitive function, including memory. In contrast, chronic activation of PERK-eIF2α signaling has been shown to contribute to pathophysiology, including memory impairments, associated with multiple neurological diseases, making this pathway an attractive therapeutic target. Herein, using multiple genetic approaches we show that selective deletion of the PERK in mouse midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons results in multiple cognitive and motor phenotypes. Conditional expression of phospho-mutant eIF2α in DA neurons recapitulated the phenotypes caused by deletion of PERK, consistent with a causal role of decreased eIF2α phosphorylation for these phenotypes. In addition, deletion of PERK in DA neurons resulted in altered de novo translation, as well as changes in axonal DA release and uptake in the striatum that mirror the pattern of motor changes observed. Taken together, our findings show that proper regulation of PERK-eIF2α signaling in DA neurons is required for normal cognitive and motor function in a non-pathological state, and also provide new insight concerning the onset of neuropsychiatric disorders that accompany UPR failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6427-6450
Number of pages24
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


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