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Letters to Nature
Nature 307, 62 - 66 (05 January 1984); doi:10.1038/307062a0

Weaver mutation has differential effects on the dopamine-containing innervation of the limbic and nonlimbic striatum

Suzanne Roffler-Tarlov & Ann M. Graybiel

Departments of Neurology and Anatomy, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA and Department of Psychology and Brain Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

Ungerstedt1 observed that the dopamine-containing innervation of the forebrain can be divided into two parts: a nigrostriatal system, originating mainly in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra and innervating the caudoputamen; and a mesolimbic system arising mainly in the ventral tegmental area and innervating the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. This classification has since been modified and extended with the discovery of the mesocortical dopamine system2,3. The original distinction between nigrostriatal and mesolimbic systems nevertheless was pivotal in suggesting that the basal ganglia are related to limbic as well as to sensorimotor functions, and remains of interest because dopaminergic mechanisms may be implicated not only in the aetiology of sensorimotor impairments such as those of Parkinson's disease4, but also in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia5–7. The striatal targets of the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal systems are now known to be distinct also in terms of forebrain connections, despite some overlap of fibre projections18,19. The nucleus accumbens–olfactory tubercle region and abutting caudoputamen (together called the ‘ventral’ or ‘limbic’ striatum) are characteristically related to limbic parts of the forebrain, whereas the large remainder of the caudoputamen (the ‘dorsal’ or ‘non-limbic’ striatum) is most closely related to sensorimotor regions19,20,34. We report here evidence that the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal systems are differentially affected in the mutant mouse weaver, and in particular that dopamine is severely depleted in the dorsal striatum of weaver but relatively spared in the ventral striatum. We conclude that dopamine-containing fibre systems innervating the limbic and non-limbic striatum can be influenced separately in genetic disease and that genetic control, whether direct or indirect, may be exerted at the single-gene level.

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