The adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) is highly expressed in the striatum, where it modulates motor and emotional behaviors. We used both microarray and bioinformatics analyses to compare gene expression profiles by genetic and pharmacological inactivation of A2AR and inferred an A2AR-controlled transcription network in the mouse striatum. A comparison between vehicle (VEH)-treated A2AR knockout (KO) mice (A2AR KO-VEH) and wild-type (WT) mice (WT-VEH) revealed 36 upregulated genes that were partially mimicked by treatment with SCH-58261 (SCH; an A2AR antagonist) and 54 downregulated genes that were not mimicked by SCH treatment. We validated the A2AR as a specific drug target for SCH by comparing A2AR KO-SCH and A2AR KO-VEH groups. The unique downregulation effect of A2AR KO was confirmed by comparing A2AR KO-SCH with WT-SCH gene groups. The distinct striatal gene expression profiles induced by A2AR KO and SCH should provide clues to the molecular mechanisms underlying the different phenotypes observed after genetic and pharmacological inactivation of A2AR. Furthermore, bioinformatics analysis discovered that Egr-2 binding sites were statistically overrepresented in the proximal promoters of A2AR KO-affected genes relative to the unaffected genes. This finding was further substantiated by the demonstration that the Egr-2 mRNA level increased in the striatum of both A2AR KO and SCH-treated mice and that striatal Egr-2 binding activity in the promoters of two A2AR KO-affected genes was enhanced in A2AR KO mice as assayed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Taken together, these results strongly support the existence of an Egr-2-directed transcriptional regulatory network controlled by striatal A2ARs.
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