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1.  Regulated RalBP1 Binding to RalA and PSD-95 Controls AMPA Receptor Endocytosis and LTD 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(9):e1000187.
A two step mechanism was identified that regulates receptor endocytosis during the development of long-term depression (LTD), a long-lasting decrease in synaptic transmission.
Long-term depression (LTD) is a long-lasting activity-dependent decrease in synaptic strength. NMDA receptor (NMDAR)–dependent LTD, an extensively studied form of LTD, involves the endocytosis of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) via protein dephosphorylation, but the underlying mechanism has remained unclear. We show here that a regulated interaction of the endocytic adaptor RalBP1 with two synaptic proteins, the small GTPase RalA and the postsynaptic scaffolding protein PSD-95, controls NMDAR-dependent AMPAR endocytosis during LTD. NMDAR activation stimulates RalA, which binds and translocates widespread RalBP1 to synapses. In addition, NMDAR activation dephosphorylates RalBP1, promoting the interaction of RalBP1 with PSD-95. These two regulated interactions are required for NMDAR-dependent AMPAR endocytosis and LTD and are sufficient to induce AMPAR endocytosis in the absence of NMDAR activation. RalA in the basal state, however, maintains surface AMPARs. We propose that NMDAR activation brings RalBP1 close to PSD-95 to promote the interaction of RalBP1-associated endocytic proteins with PSD-95-associated AMPARs. This suggests that scaffolding proteins at specialized cellular junctions can switch their function from maintenance to endocytosis of interacting membrane proteins in a regulated manner.
Author Summary
Neurons adapt over time in order to dampen their response to prolonged or particularly strong stimuli. This process, termed long-term depression (LTD), results in a long-lasting decrease in the efficiency of synaptic transmission. One extensively studied form of LTD requires the activation of a specific class of receptors known as NMDA glutamate receptors (NMDARs). A key molecular event initiated by NMDA receptor activation is the stimulation of protein phosphatases. Another key event is internalization via endocytosis of synaptic AMPA glutamate receptors (AMPARs). However, the mechanism by which protein dephosphorylation is coupled to AMPAR endocytosis has remained unclear. Here, we help to define this mechanism. We show that endocytic proteins, including RalBP1, are widely distributed in neurons under normal conditions. Upon NMDAR activation, the small GTPase RalA becomes activated and binds to RalBP1, resulting in the translocation of RalBP1 and RalBP1-associated endocytic proteins to synapses. At the same time, RalBP1 becomes dephosphorylated, which promotes its binding to the postsynaptic scaffold protein PSD-95, a protein that itself associates with AMPARs. This concerted recruitment of endocytic proteins to the vicinity of AMPARs results in AMPAR endocytosis. On the basis of our data, we propose a model in which dual binding of RalBP1 to both RalA and PSD-95 following RalBP1 dephosphorylation is essential for NMDAR-dependent AMPAR endocytosis during LTD.
PMCID: PMC2730530  PMID: 19823667
2.  Neto1 Is a Novel CUB-Domain NMDA Receptor–Interacting Protein Required for Synaptic Plasticity and Learning 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(2):e1000041.
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), a major excitatory ligand-gated ion channel in the central nervous system (CNS), is a principal mediator of synaptic plasticity. Here we report that neuropilin tolloid-like 1 (Neto1), a complement C1r/C1s, Uegf, Bmp1 (CUB) domain-containing transmembrane protein, is a novel component of the NMDAR complex critical for maintaining the abundance of NR2A-containing NMDARs in the postsynaptic density. Neto1-null mice have depressed long-term potentiation (LTP) at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses, with the subunit dependency of LTP induction switching from the normal predominance of NR2A- to NR2B-NMDARs. NMDAR-dependent spatial learning and memory is depressed in Neto1-null mice, indicating that Neto1 regulates NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity and cognition. Remarkably, we also found that the deficits in LTP, learning, and memory in Neto1-null mice were rescued by the ampakine CX546 at doses without effect in wild-type. Together, our results establish the principle that auxiliary proteins are required for the normal abundance of NMDAR subunits at synapses, and demonstrate that an inherited learning defect can be rescued pharmacologically, a finding with therapeutic implications for humans.
Author Summary
The fundamental unit for information processing in the brain is the synapse, a highly specialized site of communication between the brain's multitude of individual neurons. The strength of the communication at each synapse changes in response to neuronal activity—a process called synaptic plasticity—allowing networks of neurons to adapt and learn. How synaptic plasticity occurs is a major question in neurobiology. A central player in synaptic plasticity is an assembly of synaptic proteins called the NMDA receptor complex. Here, we discovered that the protein Neto1 is a component of the NMDA receptor complex. Neto1-deficient mice had a dramatic decrease in the number of NMDA receptors at synapses and consequently, synaptic plasticity and learning were impaired. By indirectly enhancing the function of the residual NMDA receptors in Neto1-deficient mice with a small molecule, we restored synaptic plasticity and learning to normal levels. Our findings establish the principle that inherited abnormalities of synaptic plasticity and learning due to NMDA receptor dysfunction can be pharmacologically corrected. Our discoveries also suggest that synaptic proteins that share a molecular signature, called the CUB domain, with Neto1 may be important components of synaptic receptors across species, because several CUB-domain proteins in worms have also been found to regulate synaptic receptors.
Spatial learning and memory depend on the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor, a synaptic ion channel regulated by Neto1. Impaired cognition due to the absence of Neto1 can be rescued pharmacologically, a finding with implications for the therapy of inherited learning defects in humans.
PMCID: PMC2652390  PMID: 19243221
3.  D1/5 modulation of synaptic NMDA receptor currents 
Converging evidence suggests that salience-associated modulation of behavior is mediated by the release of monoamines and that monoaminergic activation of D1/5 receptors is required for normal hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. However, it is not understood how D1/5 modulation of hippocampal circuits can affect salience-associated learning and memory. We have observed in CA1 pyramidal neurons that D1/5 receptor activation elicits a bi-directional long-term plasticity of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic currents with the polarity of plasticity determined by NMDA receptor, NR2A/B subunit composition. This plasticity results in a decrease in the NR2A/NR2B ratio of subunit composition. Synaptic responses mediated by NMDA receptors that include NR2B subunits are potentiated by D1/5 receptor activation, while responses mediated by NMDA receptors that include NR2A subunits are depressed. Furthermore, these bidirectional, subunit-specific effects are mediated by distinctive intracellular signaling mechanisms. As there is a predominance of NMDA receptors composed of NR2A subunits observed in entorhinal-CA1 inputs and a predominance of NMDA receptors composed of NR2B subunits in CA3-CA1 synapses, potentiation of synaptic NMDA currents predominates in the proximal CA3-CA1 synapses, while depression of synaptic NMDA currents predominates in the distal entorhinal-CA1 synapses. Finally, all of these effects are reproduced by the release of endogenous monoamines through activation of D1/5 receptors. Thus, endogenous D1/5 activation can, 1) decrease the NR2A/B ratio of NMDAR subunit composition at glutamatergic synapses, a rejuvenation to a composition similar to developmentally immature synapses, and, 2) in CA1, bias NMDA receptor responsiveness towards the more highly processed tri-synaptic CA3-CA1 circuit and away from the direct entorhinal-CA1 input.
PMCID: PMC2684496  PMID: 19279248
D1 [D-1]; NMDA receptor; Synaptic plasticity; Ca1; Hippocampal function; Amphetamine; Hippocampus; Current; glutamate
4.  Computational Investigation of the Changing Patterns of Subtype Specific NMDA Receptor Activation during Physiological Glutamatergic Neurotransmission 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(6):e1002106.
NMDA receptors (NMDARs) are the major mediator of the postsynaptic response during synaptic neurotransmission. The diversity of roles for NMDARs in influencing synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival is often linked to selective activation of multiple NMDAR subtypes (NR1/NR2A-NMDARs, NR1/NR2B-NMDARs, and triheteromeric NR1/NR2A/NR2B-NMDARs). However, the lack of available pharmacological tools to block specific NMDAR populations leads to debates on the potential role for each NMDAR subtype in physiological signaling, including different models of synaptic plasticity. Here, we developed a computational model of glutamatergic signaling at a prototypical dendritic spine to examine the patterns of NMDAR subtype activation at temporal and spatial resolutions that are difficult to obtain experimentally. We demonstrate that NMDAR subtypes have different dynamic ranges of activation, with NR1/NR2A-NMDAR activation sensitive at univesicular glutamate release conditions, and NR2B containing NMDARs contributing at conditions of multivesicular release. We further show that NR1/NR2A-NMDAR signaling dominates in conditions simulating long-term depression (LTD), while the contribution of NR2B containing NMDAR significantly increases for stimulation frequencies that approximate long-term potentiation (LTP). Finally, we show that NR1/NR2A-NMDAR content significantly enhances response magnitude and fidelity at single synapses during chemical LTP and spike timed dependent plasticity induction, pointing out an important developmental switch in synaptic maturation. Together, our model suggests that NMDAR subtypes are differentially activated during different types of physiological glutamatergic signaling, enhancing the ability for individual spines to produce unique responses to these different inputs.
Author Summary
Release of glutamate from one neuron onto glutamate receptors on adjacent neurons serves as the primary basis for neuronal communication. Further, different types of glutamate signals produce unique responses within the neuronal network, providing the ability for glutamate receptors to discriminate between alternative types of signaling. The NMDA receptor (NMDAR) is a glutamate receptor that mediates a variety of physiological functions, including the molecular basis for learning and memory. These receptors exist as a variety of subtypes, and this molecular heterogeneity is used to explain the diversity in signaling initiated by NMDARs. However, the lack of reliable experimental tools to control the activation of each subtype has led to debate over the subtype specific roles of the NMDAR. We have developed a stochastic model of glutamate receptor activation at a single synapse and find that NMDAR subtypes detect different types of glutamate signals. Moreover, the presence of multiple populations of NMDAR subtypes on a given neuron allows for differential patterns of NMDAR activation in response to varied glutamate inputs. This model demonstrates how NMDAR subtypes enable effective and reliable communication within neuronal networks and can be used as a tool to examine specific roles of NMDAR subtypes in neuronal function.
PMCID: PMC3127809  PMID: 21738464
5.  Caldendrin–Jacob: A Protein Liaison That Couples NMDA Receptor Signalling to the Nucleus 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(2):e34.
NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and calcium can exert multiple and very divergent effects within neuronal cells, thereby impacting opposing occurrences such as synaptic plasticity and neuronal degeneration. The neuronal Ca2+ sensor Caldendrin is a postsynaptic density component with high similarity to calmodulin. Jacob, a recently identified Caldendrin binding partner, is a novel protein abundantly expressed in limbic brain and cerebral cortex. Strictly depending upon activation of NMDA-type glutamate receptors, Jacob is recruited to neuronal nuclei, resulting in a rapid stripping of synaptic contacts and in a drastically altered morphology of the dendritic tree. Jacob's nuclear trafficking from distal dendrites crucially requires the classical Importin pathway. Caldendrin binds to Jacob's nuclear localization signal in a Ca2+-dependent manner, thereby controlling Jacob's extranuclear localization by competing with the binding of Importin-α to Jacob's nuclear localization signal. This competition requires sustained synapto-dendritic Ca2+ levels, which presumably cannot be achieved by activation of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, but are confined to Ca2+ microdomains such as postsynaptic spines. Extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, as opposed to their synaptic counterparts, trigger the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) shut-off pathway, and cell death. We found that nuclear knockdown of Jacob prevents CREB shut-off after extrasynaptic NMDA receptor activation, whereas its nuclear overexpression induces CREB shut-off without NMDA receptor stimulation. Importantly, nuclear knockdown of Jacob attenuates NMDA-induced loss of synaptic contacts, and neuronal degeneration. This defines a novel mechanism of synapse-to-nucleus communication via a synaptic Ca2+-sensor protein, which links the activity of NMDA receptors to nuclear signalling events involved in modelling synapto-dendritic input and NMDA receptor–induced cellular degeneration.
Author Summary
Long-lasting changes in communication between nerve cells require the regulation of gene expression. The influx of calcium ions into the cell, particularly through membrane protein called NMDA receptors, plays a crucial role in this process by determining the type of gene expression induced. NMDA receptors can exert multiple and very divergent effects within neuronal cells by impacting opposing phenomena such as synaptic plasticity and neuronal degeneration. We identified a protein termed Jacob that appears to play a pivotal role in such processes by entering the nucleus in response to NMDA receptor activation and controlling gene expression that governs cell survival and the stability of synaptic cell contacts. Removal of Jacob from the nucleus protects neurons from NMDA receptor–induced cell death and increases phosphorylation of the transcription factor CREB, whereas the opposite occurs after targeting Jacob exclusively to the nucleus. The work defines a novel pathway of synapse-to-nucleus communication involved in modelling synapto-dendritic input and NMDA receptor–induced cellular degeneration.
A new signaling mechanism from NMDA receptors to the nucleus plays an important role in the phosphorylation of the transcription factor CREB and neuronal cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2253627  PMID: 18303947
6.  Structural Plasticity Can Produce Metaplasticity 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e8062.
Synaptic plasticity underlies many aspect of learning memory and development. The properties of synaptic plasticity can change as a function of previous plasticity and previous activation of synapses, a phenomenon called metaplasticity. Synaptic plasticity not only changes the functional connectivity between neurons but in some cases produces a structural change in synaptic spines; a change thought to form a basis for this observed plasticity. Here we examine to what extent structural plasticity of spines can be a cause for metaplasticity. This study is motivated by the observation that structural changes in spines are likely to affect the calcium dynamics in spines. Since calcium dynamics determine the sign and magnitude of synaptic plasticity, it is likely that structural plasticity will alter the properties of synaptic plasticity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study we address the question how spine geometry and alterations of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors conductance may affect plasticity. Based on a simplified model of the spine in combination with a calcium-dependent plasticity rule, we demonstrated that after the induction phase of plasticity a shift of the long term potentiation (LTP) or long term depression (LTD) threshold takes place. This induces a refractory period for further LTP induction and promotes depotentiation as observed experimentally. That resembles the BCM metaplasticity rule but specific for the individual synapse. In the second phase, alteration of the NMDA response may bring the synapse to a state such that further synaptic weight alterations are feasible. We show that if the enhancement of the NMDA response is proportional to the area of the post synaptic density (PSD) the plasticity curves most likely return to the initial state.
Using simulations of calcium dynamics in synaptic spines, coupled with a biophysically motivated calcium-dependent plasticity rule, we find under what conditions structural plasticity can form the basis of synapse specific metaplasticity.
PMCID: PMC2779489  PMID: 19956610
7.  On the Mechanism of Synaptic Depression Induced by CaMKIIN, an Endogenous Inhibitor of CaMKII 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49293.
Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity underlies, at least in part, learning and memory processes. NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) is a major synaptic plasticity model. During LTP induction, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is activated, autophosphorylated and persistently translocated to the postsynaptic density, where it binds to the NMDAR. If any of these steps is inhibited, LTP is disrupted. The endogenous CaMKII inhibitor proteins CaMKIINα,β are rapidly upregulated in specific brain regions after learning. We recently showed that transient application of peptides derived from CaMKIINα (CN peptides) persistently depresses synaptic strength and reverses LTP saturation, as it allows further LTP induction in previously saturated pathways. The treatment disrupts basal CaMKII-NMDAR interaction and decreases bound CaMKII fraction in spines. To unravel CaMKIIN function and to further understand CaMKII role in synaptic strength maintenance, here we more deeply investigated the mechanism of synaptic depression induced by CN peptides (CN-depression) in rat hippocampal slices. We showed that CN-depression does not require glutamatergic synaptic activity or Ca2+ signaling, thus discarding unspecific triggering of activity-dependent long-term depression (LTD) in slices. Moreover, occlusion experiments revealed that CN-depression and NMDAR-LTD have different expression mechanisms. We showed that CN-depression does not involve complex metabolic pathways including protein synthesis or proteasome-mediated degradation. Remarkably, CN-depression cannot be resolved in neonate rats, for which CaMKII is mostly cytosolic and virtually absent at the postsynaptic densities. Overall, our results support a direct effect of CN peptides on synaptic CaMKII-NMDAR binding and suggest that CaMKIINα,β could be critical plasticity-related proteins that may operate as cell-wide homeostatic regulators preventing saturation of LTP mechanisms or may selectively erase LTP-induced traces in specific groups of synapses.
PMCID: PMC3493544  PMID: 23145145
8.  A Model of NMDA Receptor-Mediated Activity in Dendrites of Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons 
Journal of neurophysiology  1992;68(6):2248-2259.
The role of synaptic activation of NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor-mediated conductances on CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cells in short-term excitability changes was studied with the use of a computational model. Model parameters were based on experimental recordings from dendrites and somata and previous hippocampal simulations. Representation of CA1 neurons included NMDA and non-NMDA excitatory dendritic synapses, dendritic and somatic inhibition, five intrinsic membrane conductances, and provision for activity-dependent intracellular and extracellular ion concentration changes.The model simulated somatic and dendritic potentials recorded experimentally. The characteristic CA1 spike afterdepolarization was a consequence of the longitudinal spread of dendritic charge, reactivation of slow Ca2+-dependent K+ conductances, slow synaptic processes (NMDA-dependent depolarizing and γ-aminobutyric acid–mediated hyperpolarizing currents) and was sensitive to extracellular potassium accumulation. Calcium currents were found to be less important in generating the spike afterdepolarization.Repetitive activity was influenced by the cumulative activation of the NMDA-mediated synaptic conductances, the frequency-dependent depression of inhibitory synaptic responses, and a shift in the potassium reversal potential. NMDA receptor activation produced a transient potentiation of the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP). The frequency dependence of EPSP potentiation was similar to the experimental data, reaching a maximal value near 10 Hz.Although the present model did not have compartments for dendritic spines, Ca2+ accumulation was simulated in a restricted space near the intracellular surface of the dendritic membrane. The simulations demonstrated that the Ca2+ component of the NMDA-operated synaptic current can be a significant factor in increasing the Ca2+ concentration at submembrane regions, even in the absence of Ca2+ spikes.Elevation of the extracellular K+ concentration enhanced the dendritic synaptic response during repetitive activity and led to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ levels. This increase in dendritic excitability was partly mediated by NMDA receptor-mediated conductances.Blockade of Ca2+-sensitive K+ conductances in the dendrites increased the size of EPSPs leading to a facilitation of dendritic and somatic spike activity and increased [Ca2+]i. NMDA receptor-mediated conductances appeared as an amplifying component in this mechanism, activated by the relatively depolarized membrane potential.The results suggest that dendritic NMDA receptors, by virtue of their voltage-dependency, can interact with a number of voltage-sensitive conductances to increase the dendritic excitatory response during periods of repetitive synaptic activation. These findings support experimental results that implicate NMDA receptor-mediated conductances in the short-term response plasticity of the CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neuron.
PMCID: PMC2605954  PMID: 1337105
9.  In developing hippocampal neurons, NR2B-containing NMDA receptors can mediate signalling to neuronal survival and synaptic potentiation, as well as neuronal death 
Neuroscience  2008;158(1):334-343.
It has been suggested that NR2B-containing NMDA receptors have a selective tendency to promote pro-death signalling and synaptic depression, compared to the survival promoting, synapse potentiating properties of NR2A-containing NMDA receptors. A preferential localization of NR2A-containing NMDA receptors at the synapse in maturing neurons could thus explain differences in synaptic vs. extrasynaptic NMDA receptor signalling.
We have investigated whether NMDA receptors can mediate signalling to survival, death, and synaptic potentiation, in neurons at a developmental stage prior to significant NR2A expression and subunit-specific differences between synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors. We show that in developing hippocampal neurons, the progressive reduction in sensitivity of NMDA receptor currents to the NR2B antagonist ifenprodil applies to both synaptic and extrasynaptic locations. However, the reduction is less acute in extrasynaptic currents, indicating that NR2A does partition preferentially, but not exclusively, into synaptic locations at DIV>12. We then studied NMDA receptor signalling at DIV10, when both synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors are both overwhelmingly and equally NR2B-dominated. To analyse pro-survival signalling we studied the influence of synaptic NMDA receptor activity on staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Blockade of spontaneous NMDAR activity with MK-801, or ifenprodil exacerbated the apoptotic insult. Furthermore, MK-801 and ifenprodil both antagonized neuroprotection promoted by enhancing synaptic activity. Pro-death signalling induced by a toxic dose of NMDA is also blocked by NR2B-specific antagonists. Using a cell culture model of synaptic NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic potentiation, we find that this is mediated exclusively by NR2B-containing NMDARs, as implicated by NR2B-specific antagonists and the use of selective vs. non-selective doses of the NR2A-preferring antagonist NVP-AAM077.
Therefore, within a single neuron, NR2B-NMDA receptors are able to mediate both survival and death signalling, as well as model of NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic potentiation. In this instance, subunit differences cannot account for the dichotomous nature of NMDA receptor signalling.
PMCID: PMC2635533  PMID: 18378405
Apoptosis; necrosis; extrasynaptic; neuroprotection; NR2A
10.  Ubiquitination Regulates PSD-95 Degradation and AMPA Receptor Surface Expression 
Neuron  2003;40(3):595-607.
PSD-95 is a major scaffolding protein of the postsynaptic density, tethering NMDA- and AMPA-type glutamate receptors to signaling proteins and the neuronal cytoskeleton. Here we show that PSD-95 is regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. PSD-95 interacts with and is ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase Mdm2. In response to NMDA receptor activation, PSD-95 is ubiquitinated and rapidly removed from synaptic sites by proteasome-dependent degradation. Mutations that block PSD-95 ubiquitination prevent NMDA-induced AMPA receptor endocytosis. Likewise, proteasome inhibitors prevent NMDA-induced AMPA receptor internalization and synaptically induced long-term depression. This is consistent with the notion that PSD-95 levels are an important determinant of AMPA receptor number at the synapse. These data suggest that ubiquitination of PSD-95 through an Mdm2-mediated pathway is critical in regulating AMPA receptor surface expression during synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3963808  PMID: 14642282
11.  Slowly developing depression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor mediated responses in young rat hippocampi 
BMC Neuroscience  2004;5:26.
Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type glutamate receptors is essential in triggering various forms of synaptic plasticity. A critical issue is to what extent such plasticity involves persistent changes of glutamate receptor subtypes and many prior studies have suggested a main role for alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptors in mediating the effect. Our previous work in hippocampal slices revealed that, under pharmacological unblocking of NMDA receptors, both AMPA and NMDA receptor mediated responses undergo a slowly developing depression. In the present study we have further adressed this phenomenon, focusing on the contribution via NMDA receptors. Pharmacologically isolated NMDA receptor mediated excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were recorded for two independent synaptic pathways in CA1 area using perfusion with low Mg2+ (0.1 mM) to unblock NMDA receptors.
Following unblocking of NMDA receptors, there was a gradual decline of NMDA receptor mediated EPSPs for 2–3 hours towards a stable level of ca. 60–70 % of the maximal size. If such an experimental session was repeated twice in the same pathway with a period of NMDA receptor blockade in between, the depression attained in the first session was still evident in the second one and no further decay occurred. The persistency of the depression was also validated by comparison between pathways. It was found that the responses of a control pathway, unstimulated in the first session of receptor unblocking, behaved as novel responses when tested in association with the depressed pathway under the second session. In similar experiments, but with AP5 present during the first session, there was no subsequent difference between NMDA EPSPs.
Our findings show that merely evoking NMDA receptor mediated responses results in a depression which is input specific, induced via NMDA receptor activation, and is maintained for several hours through periods of receptor blockade. The similarity to key features of long-term depression and long-term potentiation suggests a possible relation to these phenomena. Additionally, a short term potentiation and decay (<5 min) were observed during sudden start of NMDA receptor activation supporting the idea that NMDA receptor mediated responses are highly plastic.
PMCID: PMC517399  PMID: 15285786
12.  Dissecting the Contribution of Individual Receptor Subunits to the Enhancement of N-methyl-d-Aspartate Currents by Dopamine D1 Receptor Activation in Striatum 
Dopamine, via activation of D1 receptors, enhances N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated responses in striatal medium-sized spiny neurons. However, the role of specific NMDA receptor subunits in this enhancement remains unknown. Here we used genetic and pharmacological tools to dissect the contribution of NR1 and NR2A/B subunits to NMDA responses and their modulation by dopamine receptors. We demonstrate that D1 enhancement of NMDA responses does not occur or is significantly reduced in mice with genetic knock-down of NR1 subunits, indicating a critical role of these subunits. Interestingly, spontaneous and evoked α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor-mediated responses were significantly enhanced in NR1 knock-down animals, probably as a compensatory mechanism for the marked reduction in NMDA receptor function. The NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B played differential roles in D1 modulation. Whereas genetic deletion or pharmacological blockade of NR2A subunits enhanced D1 potentiation of NMDA responses, blockade of NR2B subunits reduced this potentiation, suggesting that these regulatory subunits of the NMDA receptor counterbalance their respective functions. In addition, using D1 and D2 receptor EGFP-expressing mice, we demonstrate that NR2A subunits contribute more to NMDA responses in D1-MSSNs, whereas NR2B subunits contribute more to NMDA responses in D2 cells. The differential contribution of discrete receptor subunits to NMDA responses and dopamine modulation in the striatum has important implications for synaptic plasticity and selective neuronal vulnerability in disease states.
PMCID: PMC3095815  PMID: 21617735
NMDA; dopamine; receptor subunits; modulation; striatum
13.  NMDAR- and mGluR-dependent long term depression are differentially regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system 
The European journal of neuroscience  2009;30(8):1443-1450.
Long-term depression (LTD) in CA1 pyramidal neurons can be induced by activation of either NMDA receptors (NMDARs) or metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), both of which elicit changes in synaptic efficacy through AMPA receptor (AMPAR) endocytosis. To address the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in regulating AMPAR endocytosis during these forms of LTD, we examined the effects of pharmacological inhibitors of proteasomal degradation and protein ubiquitination on endocytosis of GluR1-containing AMPARs in dissociated rat hippocampal cultures as well as LTD of excitatory synaptic responses in acute rat hippocampal slices. Our findings suggest that the contribution of the ubiquitin-proteasome system to NMDAR-induced versus mGluR-induced AMPAR endocytosis and the consequent LTD differs significantly. NMDAR-induced AMPAR endocytosis and LTD occur independently of proteasome function, but appear to depend, at least in part, on ubiquitination. In contrast, mGluR-induced AMPAR endocytosis and LTD are enhanced by inhibition of proteasomal degradation, as well as by the inhibitor of protein ubiquitination. Furthermore, the decay of mGluR-induced membrane depolarization and Erk activation is delayed following inhibition of either ubiquitination or proteasomal degradation. These results suggest that while NMDAR-dependent LTD may utilize ubiquitin as a signal for AMPAR endocytosis, mGluR-induced signaling and LTD is limited by a feedback mechanism that involves the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
PMCID: PMC2766431  PMID: 19821836
rat; synapse; long-term-depression; endocytosis; glutamate receptor
14.  The Small GTPase Arf1 Modulates Arp2/3-Mediated Actin Polymerization via PICK1 to Regulate Synaptic Plasticity 
Neuron  2013;79(2):293-307.
Inhibition of Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization by PICK1 is a central mechanism to AMPA receptor (AMPAR) internalization and long-term depression (LTD), although the signaling pathways that modulate this process in response to NMDA receptor (NMDAR) activation are unknown. Here, we define a function for the GTPase Arf1 in this process. We show that Arf1-GTP binds PICK1 to limit PICK1-mediated inhibition of Arp2/3 activity. Expression of mutant Arf1 that does not bind PICK1 leads to reduced surface levels of GluA2-containing AMPARs and smaller spines in hippocampal neurons, which occludes subsequent NMDA-induced AMPAR internalization and spine shrinkage. In organotypic slices, NMDAR-dependent LTD of AMPAR excitatory postsynaptic currents is abolished in neurons expressing mutant Arf1. Furthermore, NMDAR stimulation downregulates Arf1 activation and binding to PICK1 via the Arf-GAP GIT1. This study defines Arf1 as a critical regulator of actin dynamics and synaptic function via modulation of PICK1.
•The Arf1-PICK1-Arp2/3 pathway regulates actin polymerization•NMDAR activation activates the Arf-GAP GIT1 to deactivate Arf1•Arf1 controls NMDAR-dependent, PICK1-mediated AMPAR trafficking and LTD•A noncanonical role is described for Arf1 in vesicle traffic, distinct from COPI regulation
Rocca et al. show that Arf1 regulates actin dynamics in dendritic spines by modulating PICK1-mediated Arp2/3 inhibition. This controls spine size, AMPAR trafficking, and hence synaptic transmission. This study defines Arf1 as a critical regulator of actin dynamics and synaptic plasticity via PICK1 modulation.
PMCID: PMC3725416  PMID: 23889934
15.  Backpropagating Action Potentials Enable Detection of Extrasynaptic Glutamate by NMDA Receptors 
Cell Reports  2012;1(5):495-505.
Synaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs) are crucial for neural coding and plasticity. However, little is known about the adaptive function of extrasynaptic NMDARs occurring mainly on dendritic shafts. Here, we find that in CA1 pyramidal neurons, backpropagating action potentials (bAPs) recruit shaft NMDARs exposed to ambient glutamate. In contrast, spine NMDARs are “protected,” under baseline conditions, from such glutamate influences by perisynaptic transporters: we detect bAP-evoked Ca2+ entry through these receptors upon local synaptic or photolytic glutamate release. During theta-burst firing, NMDAR-dependent Ca2+ entry either downregulates or upregulates an h-channel conductance (Gh) of the cell depending on whether synaptic glutamate release is intact or blocked. Thus, the balance between activation of synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDARs can determine the sign of Gh plasticity. Gh plasticity in turn regulates dendritic input probed by local glutamate uncaging. These results uncover a metaplasticity mechanism potentially important for neural coding and memory formation.
Graphical Abstract
► Dendritic shaft NMDA receptors are bound to extrasynaptic glutamate ► Both dendritic shaft and spine NMDA receptors detect synaptic glutamate spillover ► Backpropagating APs help to detect both spillover and ambient glutamate ► Dendritic shaft NMDA receptors induce downregulation of h-channel conductance (Gh)
Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity holds the key to information storage in the brain. Although synaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs) have long been implicated in the underlying mechanisms, little is known about the role of extrasynaptic NMDARs. In hippocampal pyramidal neurons, backpropagating action potentials recruit extrasynaptic NMDARs that have been exposed to ambient glutamate, thus boosting local Ca2+ entry. Semyanov and colleagues show that physiological stimulation engaging this mechanism induces an as-yet-undiscovered form of neuronal plasticity that affects synaptic input processing by the neuron.
PMCID: PMC3740263  PMID: 22832274
16.  A Kinetic Model of Dopamine- and Calcium-Dependent Striatal Synaptic Plasticity 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(2):e1000670.
Corticostriatal synapse plasticity of medium spiny neurons is regulated by glutamate input from the cortex and dopamine input from the substantia nigra. While cortical stimulation alone results in long-term depression (LTD), the combination with dopamine switches LTD to long-term potentiation (LTP), which is known as dopamine-dependent plasticity. LTP is also induced by cortical stimulation in magnesium-free solution, which leads to massive calcium influx through NMDA-type receptors and is regarded as calcium-dependent plasticity. Signaling cascades in the corticostriatal spines are currently under investigation. However, because of the existence of multiple excitatory and inhibitory pathways with loops, the mechanisms regulating the two types of plasticity remain poorly understood. A signaling pathway model of spines that express D1-type dopamine receptors was constructed to analyze the dynamic mechanisms of dopamine- and calcium-dependent plasticity. The model incorporated all major signaling molecules, including dopamine- and cyclic AMP-regulated phosphoprotein with a molecular weight of 32 kDa (DARPP32), as well as AMPA receptor trafficking in the post-synaptic membrane. Simulations with dopamine and calcium inputs reproduced dopamine- and calcium-dependent plasticity. Further in silico experiments revealed that the positive feedback loop consisted of protein kinase A (PKA), protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and the phosphorylation site at threonine 75 of DARPP-32 (Thr75) served as the major switch for inducing LTD and LTP. Calcium input modulated this loop through the PP2B (phosphatase 2B)-CK1 (casein kinase 1)-Cdk5 (cyclin-dependent kinase 5)-Thr75 pathway and PP2A, whereas calcium and dopamine input activated the loop via PKA activation by cyclic AMP (cAMP). The positive feedback loop displayed robust bi-stable responses following changes in the reaction parameters. Increased basal dopamine levels disrupted this dopamine-dependent plasticity. The present model elucidated the mechanisms involved in bidirectional regulation of corticostriatal synapses and will allow for further exploration into causes and therapies for dysfunctions such as drug addiction.
Author Summary
Recent brain imaging and neurophysiological studies suggest that the striatum, the start of the basal ganglia circuit, plays a major role in value-based decision making and behavioral disorders such as drug addiction. The plasticity of synaptic input from the cerebral cortex to output neurons of the striatum, which are medium spiny neurons, depends on interactions between glutamate input from the cortex and dopaminergic input from the midbrain. It also links sensory and cognitive states in the cortex with reward-oriented action outputs. The mechanisms involved in molecular cascades that transmit glutamate and dopamine inputs to changes in postsynaptic glutamate receptors are very complex and it is difficult to intuitively understand the mechanism. Therefore, a biochemical network model was constructed, and computer simulations were performed. The model reproduced dopamine-dependent and calcium-dependent forms of long-term depression (LTD) and potentiation (LTP) of corticostriatal synapses. Further in silico experiments revealed that a positive feedback loop formed by proteins, the protein specifically expressed in the striatum, served as the major switch for inducing LTD and LTP. This model could allow us to understand dynamic constraints in reward-dependent learning, as well as causes and therapies of dopamine-related disorders such as drug addiction.
PMCID: PMC2820521  PMID: 20169176
17.  AGAP3 and Arf6 Regulate Trafficking of AMPA Receptors and Synaptic Plasticity 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(31):12586-12598.
During NMDA receptor-mediated long-term potentiation (LTP), synapses are strengthened by trafficking AMPA receptors to the synapse through a calcium-dependent kinase cascade following activation of NMDA receptors. This process results in a long-lasting increase in synaptic strength that is thought to be a cellular mechanism for learning and memory. Over the past 20 years, many signaling pathways have been shown to be involved in the induction and maintenance of LTP including the MAPK cascade. However, the crucial link between NMDA receptors and the signaling cascades involved in AMPA receptor trafficking during LTP remains elusive. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize NMDA receptor signaling proteins that link NMDA receptor activation to downstream signaling pathways that lead to trafficking of AMPA receptors. We have identified a novel NMDA receptor interacting signaling protein, AGAP3. AGAP3 contains multiple signaling domains, a GTPase-like domain, a pleckstrin homology domain, and an ArfGAP domain, and exists as a component of the NMDA receptor complex. In addition, we found that AGAP3 regulates NMDA receptor-mediated Ras/ERK and Arf6 signaling pathways during chemically induced LTP in rat primary neuronal cultures. Finally, knocking down AGAP3 expression leads to occlusion of AMPA receptor trafficking during chemically induced LTP. Together, AGAP3 is an essential signaling component of the NMDA receptor complex that links NMDA receptor activation to AMPA receptor trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3728681  PMID: 23904596
18.  Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity by Stress Hormone Associates with Plastic Alteration of Synaptic NMDA Receptor in the Adult Hippocampus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27215.
Stress exerts a profound impact on learning and memory, in part, through the actions of adrenal corticosterone (CORT) on synaptic plasticity, a cellular model of learning and memory. Increasing findings suggest that CORT exerts its impact on synaptic plasticity by altering the functional properties of glutamate receptors, which include changes in the motility and function of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid subtype of glutamate receptor (AMPAR) that are responsible for the expression of synaptic plasticity. Here we provide evidence that CORT could also regulate synaptic plasticity by modulating the function of synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), which mediate the induction of synaptic plasticity. We found that stress level CORT applied to adult rat hippocampal slices potentiated evoked NMDAR-mediated synaptic responses within 30 min. Surprisingly, following this fast-onset change, we observed a slow-onset (>1 hour after termination of CORT exposure) increase in synaptic expression of GluN2A-containing NMDARs. To investigate the consequences of the distinct fast- and slow-onset modulation of NMDARs for synaptic plasticity, we examined the formation of long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) within relevant time windows. Paralleling the increased NMDAR function, both LTP and LTD were facilitated during CORT treatment. However, 1–2 hours after CORT treatment when synaptic expression of GluN2A-containing NMDARs is increased, bidirectional plasticity was no longer facilitated. Our findings reveal the remarkable plasticity of NMDARs in the adult hippocampus in response to CORT. CORT-mediated slow-onset increase in GluN2A in hippocampal synapses could be a homeostatic mechanism to normalize synaptic plasticity following fast-onset stress-induced facilitation.
PMCID: PMC3206081  PMID: 22069501
19.  Cdk5 regulates PSD-95 ubiquitination in neurons 
The kinase Cdk5 and its activator p35 have been implicated in drug addiction, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, learning and memory, and synapse maturation and plasticity. However the molecular mechanisms by which Cdk5 regulates synaptic plasticity are still unclear. PSD-95 is a major postsynaptic scaffolding protein of glutamatergic synapses that regulates synaptic strength and plasticity. PSD-95 is ubiquitinated by the Ubiquitin E3 Ligase Mdm2, and rapid and transient PSD-95 ubiquitination has been implicated in NMDA receptor-induced AMPA receptor endocytosis. Here we demonstrate that genetic or pharmacological reduction of Cdk5 activity increases the interaction of Mdm2 with PSD-95 and enhances PSD-95 ubiquitination without affecting PSD-95 protein levels in vivo in mice, suggesting a non-proteolytic function of ubiquitinated PSD-95 at synapses. We show that PSD-95 ubiquitination correlates with increased interaction with β-adaptin, a subunit of the clathrin adaptor protein complex AP-2. This interaction is increased by genetic reduction of Cdk5 activity or NMDA receptor stimulation and is dependent on Mdm2. Together these results support a function for Cdk5 in regulating PSD-95 ubiqutination and its interaction with AP-2 and suggest a mechanism by which PSD-95 may regulate NMDA receptor-induced AMPA receptor endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC3190401  PMID: 21849563
20.  Dopamine D1 receptor inhibition of NMDA receptor currents mediated by tyrosine kinase-dependent receptor trafficking in neonatal rat striatum 
The Journal of Physiology  2008;586(Pt 19):4693-4707.
NMDA receptors are of particular importance in the control of synaptic strength and integration of synaptic activity. Dopamine receptor modulation of NMDA receptors in neonatal striatum may influence the efficacy of synaptic transmission in the cortico-striatal pathway and if so, this modulation will affect the behaviour of the basal ganglia network. Here, we show that in acute brain slices of neonatal (P7) rat striatum the dopamine D1 receptor agonist SKF-82958 significantly decreases NMDA receptor currents in patch-clamp whole-cell recordings. This inhibition is not abolished by application of a G protein inhibitor (GDP-β-S) or irreversible G protein activator (GTP-γ-S) suggesting a G protein-independent mechanism. In addition, intracellular application of protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors (lavendustin A or PP2) abolished D1 inhibition of NMDA currents. In contrast, in older animals (P28) D1 receptor activation produces a potentiation of the NMDA response which suggests there is a developmental switch in D1 modulation of striatal NMDA receptors. Single-channel recordings show that direct D1 receptor inhibition of NMDA receptors cannot be observed in isolated membrane patches. We hypothesize that D1 inhibition in whole-cell recordings from neonatal rats may be mediated by a change in NMDA receptor trafficking. Consistent with this hypothesis, intracellular application of a dynamin inhibitory peptide (QVPSRPNRAP) abolished D1 inhibition of NMDA receptor currents. We therefore conclude that a tyrosine kinase-dependent alteration of NMDA receptor trafficking underlies D1 dopamine receptor-mediated down-regulation of NMDA receptor currents in medium spiny neurons of neonatal rat striatum.
PMCID: PMC2614044  PMID: 18703578
21.  Dopamine D1 receptor inhibition of NMDA receptor currents mediated by tyrosine kinase-dependent receptor trafficking in neonatal rat striatum 
The Journal of Physiology  2008;586(19):4693-4707.
NMDA receptors are of particular importance in the control of synaptic strength and integration of synaptic activity. Dopamine receptor modulation of NMDA receptors in neonatal striatum may influence the efficacy of synaptic transmission in the cortico-striatal pathway and if so, this modulation will affect the behaviour of the basal ganglia network. Here, we show that in acute brain slices of neonatal (P7) rat striatum the dopamine D1 receptor agonist SKF-82958 significantly decreases NMDA receptor currents in patch-clamp whole-cell recordings. This inhibition is not abolished by application of a G protein inhibitor (GDP-β-S) or irreversible G protein activator (GTP-γ-S) suggesting a G protein-independent mechanism. In addition, intracellular application of protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors (lavendustin A or PP2) abolished D1 inhibition of NMDA currents. In contrast, in older animals (P28) D1 receptor activation produces a potentiation of the NMDA response which suggests there is a developmental switch in D1 modulation of striatal NMDA receptors. Single-channel recordings show that direct D1 receptor inhibition of NMDA receptors cannot be observed in isolated membrane patches. We hypothesize that D1 inhibition in whole-cell recordings from neonatal rats may be mediated by a change in NMDA receptor trafficking. Consistent with this hypothesis, intracellular application of a dynamin inhibitory peptide (QVPSRPNRAP) abolished D1 inhibition of NMDA receptor currents. We therefore conclude that a tyrosine kinase-dependent alteration of NMDA receptor trafficking underlies D1 dopamine receptor-mediated down-regulation of NMDA receptor currents in medium spiny neurons of neonatal rat striatum.
PMCID: PMC2614044  PMID: 18703578
22.  Activation of EphA Receptors Mediates the Recruitment of the Adaptor Protein Slap, Contributing to the Downregulation of N-Methyl-d-Aspartate Receptors 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(7):1442-1455.
Regulation of the activity of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) at glutamatergic synapses is essential for certain forms of synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory and is also associated with neurotoxicity and neurodegenerative diseases. In this report, we investigate the role of Src-like adaptor protein (Slap) in NMDA receptor signaling. We present data showing that in dissociated neuronal cultures, activation of ephrin (Eph) receptors by chimeric preclustered eph-Fc ligands leads to recruitment of Slap and NMDA receptors at the sites of Eph receptor activation. Interestingly, our data suggest that prolonged activation of EphA receptors is as efficient in recruiting Slap and NMDA receptors as prolonged activation of EphB receptors. Using established heterologous systems, we examined whether Slap is an integral part of NMDA receptor signaling. Our results showed that Slap does not alter baseline activity of NMDA receptors and does not affect Src-dependent potentiation of NMDA receptor currents in Xenopus oocytes. We also demonstrate that Slap reduces excitotoxic cell death triggered by activation of NMDARs in HEK293 cells. Finally, we present evidence showing reduced levels of NMDA receptors in the presence of Slap occurring in an activity-dependent manner, suggesting that Slap is part of a mechanism that homeostatically modulates the levels of NMDA receptors.
PMCID: PMC3624273  PMID: 23382070
23.  αCaMKII and PSD-95 differentially regulate synaptic expression of NR2A and NR2B-containing NMDA receptors in hippocampus 
Neuroscience  2007;151(1):43-55.
NMDA receptors (NMDARs) are critical determinants of bidirectional synaptic plasticity, however, studies of NMDAR function have been based primarily on pharmacological and electrophysiological manipulations, and it is still debated whether there are subunit-selective forms of long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD). Here we provide ultrastructural analyses of axospinous synapses in CA1 stratum radiatum of transgenic mice with mutations to two key underlying postsynaptic density (PSD) proteins, PSD-95 and αCaMKII. Distribution profiles of synaptic proteins in these mice reveal very different patterns of subunit-specific NMDAR localization, which may be related to the divergent phenotypes of the two mutants. In PSD-95 PDZ3 truncated mice in which LTD could not be induced but LTP was found to be enhanced, we found a subtle, yet preferential displacement of synaptic NR2B subunits in lateral regions of the synapse without affecting changes in the localization of NR2A subunits. In persistent inhibitory αCaMKII T305D mutant mice with severely impaired LTP but stable LTD expression, we found a selective reduction of NR2A subunits at both the synapse and throughout the cytoplasm of the spine without any effect on the NR2B subunit. In an experiment of mutual exclusivity, neither PSD-95 nor αCaMKII localization was found to be affected by mutations to the corresponding PSD protein suggesting that they are functionally independent of the other in the regulation of NR2A and NR2B-containing NMDARs preceding synaptic activity. Consequently, there may exist at least two distinct PSD-95 and αCaMKII-specific NMDAR complexes involved in mediating LTP and LTD through opposing signal transduction pathways in synapses of the hippocampus. The contrasting phenotypes of the PSD-95 and αCaMKII mutant mice further establish the prospect of an independent and, possibly, competing mechanism for the regulation of NMDAR-dependent bidirectional synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2391003  PMID: 18082335
MAGUKs; postsynaptic density; electron microscopy; LTP; LTD; synaptic plasticity
24.  AKAP150-Anchored Calcineurin Regulates Synaptic Plasticity by Limiting Synaptic Incorporation of Ca2+-Permeable AMPA Receptors 
AMPA receptors (AMPARs) are tetrameric ion channels assembled from GluA1-GluA4 subunits that mediate the majority of fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain. In the hippocampus, most synaptic AMPARs are composed of GluA1/2 or GluA2/3 with the GluA2 subunit preventing Ca2+ influx. However, a small number of Ca2+-permeable GluA1 homomeric receptors reside in extrasynaptic locations where they can be rapidly recruited to synapses during synaptic plasticity. Phosphorylation of GluA1 S845 by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) primes extrasynaptic receptors for synaptic insertion in response to NMDA receptor (NMDAR) Ca2+ signaling during long-term potentiation (LTP), while phosphatases dephosphorylate S845 and remove synaptic and extrasynaptic GluA1 during long-term depression (LTD). PKA and the Ca2+-activated phosphatase calcineurin (CaN) are targeted to GluA1 through binding to A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) 150 in a complex with PSD-95, but we do not understand how the opposing activities of these enzymes are balanced to control plasticity. Here, we generated AKAP150ΔPIX knock-in mice to selectively disrupt CaN anchoring in vivo. We found that AKAP150ΔPIX mice lack LTD but express enhanced LTP at CA1 synapses. Accordingly, basal GluA1 S845 phosphorylation is elevated in AKAP150ΔPIX hippocampus, and LTD-induced dephosphorylation and removal of GluA1, AKAP150, and PSD-95 from synapses is impaired. In addition, basal synaptic activity of GluA2-lacking AMPARs is increased in AKAP150ΔPIX mice and pharmacologic antagonism of these receptors restores normal LTD and inhibits the enhanced LTP. Thus, AKAP150-anchored CaN opposes PKA phosphorylation of GluA1 to restrict synaptic incorporation of Ca2+-permeable AMPARs both basally and during LTP and LTD.
PMCID: PMC3504485  PMID: 23100425
25.  Nuclear Translocation of Jacob in Hippocampal Neurons after Stimuli Inducing Long-Term Potentiation but Not Long-Term Depression 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17276.
In recent years a number of potential synapto-nuclear protein messengers have been characterized that are thought to be involved in plasticity-related gene expression, and that have the capacity of importin- mediated and activity-dependent nuclear import. However, there is a surprising paucity of data showing the nuclear import of such proteins in cellular models of learning and memory. Only recently it was found that the transcription factor cyclic AMP response element binding protein 2 (CREB2) transits to the nucleus during long-term depression (LTD), but not during long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission in hippocampal primary neurons. Jacob is another messenger that couples NMDA-receptor-activity to nuclear gene expression. We therefore aimed to study whether Jacob accumulates in the nucleus in physiological relevant models of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have analyzed the dynamics of Jacob's nuclear import following induction of NMDA-receptor dependent LTP or LTD at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses in rat hippocampal slices. Using time-lapse imaging of neurons expressing a Jacob-Green-Fluorescent-Protein we found that Jacob rapidly translocates from dendrites to the nucleus already during the tetanization period of LTP, but not after induction of LTD. Immunocytochemical stainings confirmed the nuclear accumulation of endogenous Jacob in comparison to apical dendrites after induction of LTP but not LTD. Complementary findings were obtained after induction of NMDA-receptor dependent chemical LTP and LTD in hippocampal primary neurons. However, in accordance with previous studies, high concentrations of NMDA and glycine as well as specific activation of extrasynaptic NMDA-receptors resembling pathological conditions induce an even more profound increase of nuclear Jacob levels.
Taken together, these findings suggest that the two major forms of NMDA-receptor dependent synaptic plasticity, LTP and LTD, elicit the transition of different synapto-nuclear messengers albeit in both cases importin-mediated retrograde transport and NMDA-receptor activation is required.
PMCID: PMC3041791  PMID: 21364755

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