Dopamine (DA) neurotransmission plays key roles in learning, motivation and reward processes as well as working memory and cognition. Aberrations in presynaptic dopamine stores and release underlie several neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, ADHD, drug addiction and Parkinson's disease. The PI's laboratory in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. David Sulzer recently introduced new optical probes termed "Fluorescent False Neurotransmitters" (FFNs) that were designed as tracers of dopamine to enable direct visualization of neurotransmitter uptake and release at individual synaptic terminals. FFNs provide the first means to optically image the neurotransmitter release in the brain and thus enable the examination of synaptic plasticity associated with pathogenesis and the action of therapeutics. New FFNs will be synthesized to optimize the key functional parameters of these probes, which include the selectivity of uptake, signal contrast, kinetics of evoked release, and photostability. Also, pH responsive FFNs will be developed.
These aims will be achieved via systematic structural alterations of promising compound leads.

Public Health Relevance

Dopamine neurotransmission plays key roles in many brain functions in both health (learning, reward processes, working memory and cognition) and disease (schizophrenia, drug addiction, Parkinson's disease). The new imaging agents developed in this application provide the first means to monitor dopamine function and malfunction on the level of individual synapses and as such will enable not only fundamental neuroscience but also CNS drug design and development.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MDCN-C (91))
Program Officer
Freund, Michelle
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Columbia University (N.Y.)
Other Domestic Higher Education
New York
United States
Zip Code
Federici, Mauro; Latagliata, Emanuele Claudio; Ledonne, Ada et al. (2014) Paradoxical abatement of striatal dopaminergic transmission by cocaine and methylphenidate. J Biol Chem 289:264-74
Joo, Jung Min; Guo, Pengfei; Sames, Dalibor (2013) C-H bonds as ubiquitous functionality: preparation of multiple regioisomers of arylated 1,2,4-triazoles via C-H arylation. J Org Chem 78:738-43
Rodriguez, Pamela C; Pereira, Daniela B; Borgkvist, Anders et al. (2013) Fluorescent dopamine tracer resolves individual dopaminergic synapses and their activity in the brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:870-5
Karpowicz Jr, Richard J; Dunn, Matthew; Sulzer, David et al. (2013) APP+, a fluorescent analogue of the neurotoxin MPP+, is a marker of catecholamine neurons in brain tissue, but not a fluorescent false neurotransmitter. ACS Chem Neurosci 4:858-69
Hu, Gang; Henke, Adam; Karpowicz Jr, Richard J et al. (2013) New fluorescent substrate enables quantitative and high-throughput examination of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2). ACS Chem Biol 8:1947-54
Sames, Dalibor; Dunn, Matthew; Karpowicz Jr, Richard J et al. (2013) Visualizing neurotransmitter secretion at individual synapses. ACS Chem Neurosci 4:648-51