Activity-dependent modification of excitatory synaptic transmission is fundamental for developmental plasticity of the neural circuits and experience-dependent plasticity. Synaptic glutamatergic receptors including AMPA receptors and NMDA receptors (AMPARs and NMDARs) are embedded in the highly organized protein network in the postsynaptic density. Overwhelming data have shown that PSD-95-like membrane associated guanylate kinases (PSD-MAGUKs), as a major family of scaffold proteins at glutamatergic synapses, regulate basal synaptic AMPAR function and trafficking. It is now clear that PSD-MAGUKs have multifaceted functions in terms of regulating synaptic transmission and plasticity. Here we discuss recent advancements in understanding the roles of PSD-95 and other family members of PSD-MAGUKs in synaptic plasticity, both as an anchoring protein for synaptic AMPARs and also as a signaling scaffold for mediating the interaction of the signaling complex and NMDARs.
Plasticity at excitatory glutamatergic synapses in the central nervous system is believed to be critical for neuronal circuits to process and encode information allowing animals to perform complex behaviors such as learning and memory. In addition, alterations in synaptic plasticity are associated with human diseases including Alzheimer's, epilepsy, chronic pain, drug addiction, and schizophrenia. Long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) in the hippocampal region of the brain are two forms of synaptic plasticity that increase or decrease, respectively, the strength of synaptic transmission by postsynaptic AMPA-type glutamate receptors. Both LTP and LTD are induced by activation of NMDA-type glutamate receptors but differ in the level and duration of Ca2+ influx through the NMDA receptor and the subsequent engagement of downstream signaling by protein kinases including PKA, PKC, and CaMKII and phosphatases including PP1 and calcineurin-PP2B (CaN). This review addresses the important emerging roles of the A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) family of scaffold proteins in regulating localization of PKA and other kinases and phosphatases to postsynaptic multi-protein complexes that control NMDA and AMPA receptor function during LTP and LTD.
Learning-related modifications of synaptic transmission at CA1 hippocampal excitatory synapses are activity- and NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent. While a postsynaptic increase in Ca2+ is absolutely required for synaptic plasticity induction, the molecular mechanisms underlying the transduction of synaptic signals to postsynaptic changes are not clearly understood. In our recent study, we found that the postsynaptic calmodulin (CaM)-binding protein neurogranin (Ng) enhances synaptic strength in an activity- and NMDAR-dependent manner. Furthermore we have shown that Ng is not only required for the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP), but its mediated synaptic potentiation also mimics and occludes LTP. Our results demonstrate that Ng plays an important role in the regulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and synaptic function. Here, we summarize our findings and further discuss their possible implications in aging-related synaptic plasticity deficits.
neurogranin; calmodulin; CaMKII; calcneurin; aging; LTP; LTD
Beyond their well-established role as triggers for LTP and LTD of fast synaptic transmission mediated by AMPA receptors, an expanding body of evidence indicates that NMDA receptors (NMDARs) themselves are also dynamically regulated and subject to activity-dependent long-term plasticity. NMDARs can significantly contribute to information transfer at synapses particularly during periods of repetitive activity. It is also increasingly recognized that NMDARs participate in dendritic synaptic integration and are critical for generating persistent activity of neural assemblies. Here we review recent advances on the mechanisms and functional consequences of NMDAR plasticity. Given the unique biophysical properties of NMDARs, synaptic plasticity of NMDAR-mediated transmission emerges as a particularly powerful mechanism for the fine tuning of information encoding and storage throughout the brain.
LTP; LTD; metaplasticity; glutamate; metabotropic receptor; GluN2A; GluN2B; subunit switch; calcium signaling; receptor trafficking; receptor lateral mobility; bursting; burst firing; integrative functions
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.
Recent neuroimaging and postmortem studies have demonstrated abnormalities in glutamatergic transmission in major depression. Glutamate NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are one of the major mediators of excitatory neurotransmission in the central nervous system. At synaptic sites, NMDA receptors are linked with postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) that plays a key role in mediating trafficking, clustering, and downstream signaling events, following receptor activation. In this study, we examined the expression of NMDA receptor subunits NR1, NR2A, and NR2B as well as PSD-95 in the anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC) using Western blot method. Cortical samples were obtained from age, gender and postmortem interval matched depressed and psychiatrically healthy controls. The results revealed that there was a reduced expression of the NMDA receptor subunits NR2A (−54%) and NR2B (−48%), and PSD-95 protein level (−40%) in the PFC of depressed subjects relative to controls, with no change in the NR1 subunit. The alterations in NMDA receptor subunits, especially the NR2A and NR2B, as well as PSD-95 suggest an abnormality in the NMDA receptor signaling in the PFC in major depression. Our findings in conjunction with recent clinical, cellular, and neuroimaging studies further implicate the involvement of glutamate neurotransmission in the pathophysiology of depression. This study provides additional evidence that NMDA receptor complex is a target for discovery of novel antidepressants.
major depressive disorder; glutamate receptors; postmortem; postsynaptic density protein; anterior prefrontal cortex
Agonist-induced internalization of transmembrane receptors is a widespread biological phenomenon that also may serve as a mechanism for synaptic plasticity. Here we show that the agonist AMPA causes a depression of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) signaling at glutamate synapses in the CA1 region of the hippocampus in slices from developing, but not from mature, rats. This developmentally restricted agonist-induced synaptic depression is expressed as a total loss of AMPAR signaling, without affecting NMDA receptor (NMDAR) signaling, in a large proportion of the developing synapses, thus creating AMPAR silent synapses. The AMPA-induced AMPAR silencing is induced independently of activation of mGluRs and NMDARs, and it mimics and occludes stimulus-induced depression, suggesting that this latter form of synaptic plasticity is expressed as agonist-induced removal of AMPARs. Induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) rendered the developing synapses resistant to the AMPA-induced depression, indicating that LTP contributes to the maturation-related increased stability of these synapses. Our study shows that agonist binding to AMPARs is a sufficient triggering stimulus for the creation of AMPAR silent synapses at developing glutamate synapses.
Spike timing–dependent plasticity (STDP) is a strong candidate for an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent form of synaptic plasticity that could underlie the development of receptive field properties in sensory neocortices. Whilst induction of timing-dependent long-term potentiation (t-LTP) requires postsynaptic NMDA receptors, timing-dependent long-term depression (t-LTD) requires the activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses in barrel cortex. Here we investigated the developmental profile of t-LTD at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses of mouse barrel cortex and studied their NMDA receptor subunit dependence. Timing-dependent LTD emerged in the first postnatal week, was present during the second week and disappeared in the adult, whereas t-LTP persisted in adulthood. An antagonist at GluN2C/D subunit–containing NMDA receptors blocked t-LTD but not t-LTP. Conversely, a GluN2A subunit–preferring antagonist blocked t-LTP but not t-LTD. The GluN2C/D subunit requirement for t-LTD appears to be synapse specific, as GluN2C/D antagonists did not block t-LTD at horizontal cross-columnar layer 2/3-to-layer 2/3 synapses, which was blocked by a GluN2B antagonist instead. These data demonstrate an NMDA receptor subunit-dependent double dissociation of t-LTD and t-LTP mechanisms at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses, and suggest that t-LTD is mediated by distinct molecular mechanisms at different synapses on the same postsynaptic neuron.
development; LTD; LTP; rodent; synaptic plasticity
Intact cholinergic innervation from medial septum and noradrenergic innervation from locus coeruleus are required for hippocampal dependent learning and memory. However, much remains unclear about the precise roles of acetylcholine (ACh) and norepinephrine (NE) in hippocampal function, particularly in terms of how interactions between these two transmitter systems might play an important role in synaptic plasticity. Recently we reported that activation of either muscarinic M1 or adrenergic α1 receptors induces activity- and NMDA receptor-dependent long-term depression (LTD) at CA3-CA1 synapses in acute hippocampal slices, referred to as muscarinic LTD (mLTD) and norepinephrine LTD (NE LTD), respectively. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that mLTD and NE LTD are independent forms of LTD, yet require activation of a common Gαq coupled signaling pathway for their induction, and investigated the net effect of coactivation of M1 and α1 receptors on the magnitude of LTD induced. We find that neither mLTD nor NE LTD requires PLC activation but both plasticities are prevented by inhibiting the Src kinase family and ERK activation. Interestingly, LTD can be induced when M1 and α1 agonists are coapplied at concentrations too low to induce LTD when applied separately, via a summed increase in ERK activation. Thus, because ACh and NE levels in vivo covary, especially during periods of memory encoding and consolidation, cooperative signaling through M1 and α1 receptors could function to induce long-term changes in synaptic function important for cognition.
synaptic plasticity; acetylcholine; norepinephrine; U0126; carbachol; methoxamine
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.
rat; synapse; long-term-depression; endocytosis; glutamate receptor
Chronic activation or inhibition of cannabinoid receptors (CB1) leads to continuous suppression of neuronal plasticity in hippocampus and other brain regions, suggesting that endocannabinoids may have a functional role in synaptic processes that produce state-dependent transient modulation of hippocampal cell activity. In support of this, it has previously been shown in vitro that cannabinoid CB1 receptors modulate second messenger systems in hippocampal neurons that can modulate intracellular ion channels, including channels which release calcium from intracellular stores. Here we demonstrate in hippocampal slices a similar endocannabinoid action on excitatory glutamatergic synapses via modulation of NMDA-receptor mediated intracellular calcium levels in confocal imaged neurons. Calcium entry through glutamatergic NMDA-mediated ion channels increases intracellular calcium concentrations via modulation of release from ryanodine-sensitive channels in endoplasmic reticulum. The studies reported here show that NMDA-elicited increases in Calcium Green fluorescence are enhanced by CB1 receptor antagonists (i.e. rimonabant), and inhibited by CB1 agonists (i.e. WIN 55,212-2). Suppression of endocannabinoid breakdown by either reuptake inhibition (AM404) or fatty-acid amide hydrolase inhibition (URB597) produced suppression of NMDA elicited calcium increases comparable to WIN 55,212-2, while enhancement of calcium release provoked by endocannabinoid receptor antagonists (Rimonabant) was shown to depend on the blockade of CB1 receptor mediated de-phosphorylation of Ryanodine receptors. Such CB1 receptor modulation of NMDA elicited increases in intracellular calcium may account for the respective disruption and enhancement by CB1 agents of trial-specific hippocampal neuron ensemble firing patterns during performance of a short-term memory task, reported previously from this laboratory.
Calcium; cannabinoid; n-methyl-d-aspartate; glutamate; second messenger; protein kinase; plasticity; confocal imaging; fluorescence
It has recently been discovered that some forms of timing-dependent long-term depression (t-LTD) require presynaptic N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. In this review, we discuss the evidence for the presence of presynaptic NMDA receptors at cortical synapses and their possible role in the induction of t-LTD. Two basic models emerge for the induction of t-LTD at cortical synapses. In one model, coincident activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors and CB1 receptors mediates t-LTD. In a second model, CB1 receptors are not necessary, and the activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors alone appears to be sufficient for the induction of t-LTD.
plasticity; STDP; t-LTD; NMDA; presynaptic mechanisms
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.
Many cortical synapses exhibit spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) in which the precise timing of presynaptic and postsynaptic spikes induces synaptic strengthening [long-term potentiation (LTP)] or weakening [long-term depression (LTD)]. Standard models posit a single, postsynaptic, NMDA receptor-based coincidence detector for LTP and LTD components of STDP. We show instead that STDP at layer 4 to layer 2/3 synapses in somatosensory (S1) cortex involves separate calcium sources and coincidence detection mechanisms for LTP and LTD. LTP showed classical NMDA receptor dependence. LTD was independent of postsynaptic NMDA receptors and instead required group I metabotropic glutamate receptors and calcium from voltage-sensitive channels and IP3 receptor-gated stores. Downstream of postsynaptic calcium, LTD required retrograde endocannabinoid signaling, leading to presynaptic LTD expression, and also required activation of apparently presynaptic NMDA receptors. These LTP and LTD mechanisms detected firing coincidence on ~25 and ~125 ms time scales, respectively, and combined to implement the overall STDP rule. These findings indicate that STDP is not a unitary process and suggest that endocannabinoid-dependent LTD may be relevant to cortical map plasticity.
LTP; LTD; synaptic plasticity; endocannabinoid; barrel; metabotropic glutamate receptor
Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) has many cellular functions. Recent evidence suggests that it plays a key role in certain types of synaptic plasticity, in particular a form of long-term depression (LTD) that is induced by the synaptic activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs). In the present article we summarize what is currently known concerning the roles of GSK-3 in synaptic plasticity at both glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. We summarize its role in cognition and speculate on how alterations in the synaptic functioning of GSK-3 may be a major factor in certain neurodegenerative disorders.
GSK-3 (glycogen synthase kinase-3); caspase 3; Akt (PKB, protein kinase B); synaptic plasticity; LTP (long-term potentiation); LTD (long-term depression); AMPAR (AMPA receptor); NMDAR (NMDA receptor)
Presynaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs) modulate release and plasticity at many glutamatergic synapses, but the specificity of their expression across synapse classes has not been examined. We found that non-postsynaptic, likely presynaptic NR2B-containing NMDARs enhanced AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission at layer 4 (L4) to L2/3 (L4–L2/3) synapses in juvenile rat barrel cortex. This modulation was apparent at room temperature when presynaptic NMDARs were activated by elevation of extracellular glutamate or application of exogenous NMDAR agonists. At near physiological temperatures, modulation of transmission by presynaptic NMDARs occurred naturally, without the need for external activation. Blockade of presynaptic NMDARs depressed unitary and extracellularly evoked EPSCs at L4–L2/3 synapses, accompanied by increases in paired-pulse ratio and coefficient of variation, indicative of a decrease in presynaptic release probability. NMDAR agonists increased the frequency of miniature EPSCs in L2/3 neurons, without altering their amplitude or kinetics. Focal application of NMDAR antagonist revealed that the NMDARs that modulate L4–L2/3 transmission are located in L2/3, not L4, consistent with localization on terminals or axons of L4–L2/3 synapses, rather than on the somatodendritic compartment of presynaptic L4 neurons. In contrast, presynaptic NMDARs did not modulate L4–L4 synapses, which originate from the same presynaptic neurons as L4–L2/3 synapses, or cross-columnar L2/3–L2/3 horizontal projections, which synapse onto the same postsynaptic target neurons. Thus, presynaptic NMDARs selectively modulate L4–L2/3 synapses, relative to other synapses made by the same neurons. Existence of these receptors may support specialized processing or plasticity by L4–L2/3 synapses.
synaptic release; cortical layer; presynaptic modulation; release probability; glutamate; barrel cortex
Neural activity enhances adult neurogenesis, enabling experience to influence the construction of new circuits. GABAA receptor-mediated depolarization of newborn neurons in the adult and developing brain promotes glutamatergic synaptic integration since chronic reduction of GABA depolarization impairs morphological maturation and formation of glutamatergic synapses. Here we demonstrate an acute role of GABA depolarization in glutamatergic synaptic integration. Using POMC-GFP reporter mice, we identify a developmental stage when adult generated neurons have glutamatergic synaptic transmission mediated solely by NMDA receptors (NMDARs), representing the initial silent synapses prior to AMPA receptor (AMPAR)-mediated functional transmission. We show that pairing synaptic stimulation with postsynaptic depolarization results in synapse unsilencing that requires NMDAR activation. GABA synaptic depolarization enables activation of NMDARs in the absence of AMPAR-mediated transmission, and is required for synapse unsilencing induced by synaptic activity in vitro as well as a brief exposure to an enriched environment in vivo. The rapid appearance of AMPAR-mediated EPSCs and the lack of maturational changes show that GABA depolarization acutely allows NMDAR activation required for initial synapse unsilencing. Together these results also reveal that adult generated neurons in a critical period for survival use GABA signaling to rapidly initiate functional glutamate-mediated transmission in response to experience.
The role of NMDA and non-NMDA glutamate receptors in long-term potentiation has been intensely investigated, yet recent evidence on the dynamics of synaptic depolarization suggests that the original view should be extended. NMDA receptor-mediated currents, apart from their Ca2+
permeability, show a marked voltage dependence, consisting of current increase and slowdown during membrane depolarization. During highfrequency synaptic transmission, NMDA current increase and slowdown are primed by non-NMDA receptor-dependent depolarization and proceed regeneratively. Thus, NMDA receptors make a decisive contribution to membrane depolarization and spike-firing. From the data obtained at the mossy fiber- granule cell synapse of the cerebellum, we propose that the electrogenic role of NMDA receptors is functional to LTP induction. Moreover, during LTP, both NMDA and non- NMDA receptor currents are potentiated, thus establishing a feed-forward mechanism that ultimately enhances spike firing. Thus, NMDA receptors exert an integrated control on signal coding and plasticity. This mechanism may have important implications for information processing at the cerebellar mossy fibergranule cell relay.
Synaptic plasticity is considered to be the main mechanism for learning and memory. Excitatory synapses in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus undergo plastic changes during development and in response to electric stimulation. It is widely accepted that this process is mediated by insertion and elimination of various glutamate receptors. In a series of recent investigations on left–right asymmetry of hippocampal CA3–CA1 synapses, glutamate receptor subunits have been found to have distinctive expression patterns that depend on the postsynaptic density (PSD) area. Particularly notable are the GluR1 AMPA receptor subunit and NR2B NMDA receptor subunit, where receptor density has either a supralinear (GluR1 AMPA) or inverse (NR2B NMDAR) relationship to the PSD area. We review current understanding of structural and physiological synaptic plasticity and propose a scheme to classify receptor subtypes by their expression pattern with respect to PSD area.
spines; glutamate; AMPAR; NMDAR; mGluR5; PSD
SK2 potassium channels control excitability and contribute to plasticity by reducing excitatory postsynaptic potentials. Recent evidence suggests that SK2 channels form a calcium-dependent negative-feedback loop with synaptic NMDA receptors. Addiction to alcohol and other drugs of abuse induces plastic changes in glutamatergic synapses that include the targeting of NMDA receptors to synaptic sites; however, the role of SK2 channels in alcohol-associated homeostatic plasticity is unknown.
Electrophysiology, Western blot, and behavioral analyses were used to quantify changes in hippocampal SK channel function and expression using well-characterized in-vitro and in-vivo models of chronic alcohol exposure.
Chronic ethanol reduced apamin-sensitive SK currents in CA1 pyramidal neurons that were associated with a down-regulation of surface SK2 channels. Blocking SK channels with apamin potentiated excitatory post-synaptic potentials in control but not ethanol treated CA1 pyramidal neurons, suggesting that chronic ethanol disrupts the SK channel-NMDA receptor feedback loop. Alcohol reduced expression of SK2 channels and increased expression of NMDA receptors at synaptic sites in a mouse model. Positive modulation of SK function by 1-EBIO decreased alcohol withdrawal hyperexcitability and attenuated ethanol withdrawal neurotoxicity in hippocampus. 1-EBIO also reduced seizure activity in mice undergoing withdrawal.
These results provide evidence that SK2 channels contribute to alcohol-associated adaptive plasticity of glutamatergic synapses and that positive modulation of SK channels reduces the severity of withdrawal-related hyperexcitability. Therefore, SK2 channels appear to be critical regulators of alcohol-associated plasticity and may be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of addiction.
SK2; adaptive plasticity; alcoholism; glutamatergic synapses; withdrawal hyperexcitability; 1-EBIO
Most studies of long-term potentiation (LTP) have focused on potentiation induced by the activation of postsynaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs). However, it is now apparent that NMDAR-dependent signaling processes are not the only form of LTP operating in the brain (Malenka and Bear, 2004). Previously, we have observed that LTP in leech central synapses made by the touch mechanosensory neurons onto the S interneuron was NMDAR-independent (Burrell and Sahley, 2004). Here we examine the cellular mechanisms mediating T-to-S (T→S) LTP and find that its induction requires activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCCs) and protein kinase C (PKC). Surprisingly, whenever LTP was pharmacologically inhibited, long-term depression (LTD) was observed at the tetanized synapse, indicating that LTP and LTD were activated at the same time in the same synaptic pathway. This co-induction of LTP and LTD likely plays an important role in activity-dependent regulation of synaptic transmission.
metabotropic glutamate receptor; voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel; protein kinase C; neuroplasticity; invertebrate
The Ca2+/Calmodulin(CaM)-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is activated by Ca2+/CaM, but becomes partially autonomous (Ca2+-independent) upon autophosphorylation at T286. This hallmark feature of CaMKII regulation provides a form of molecular memory and is indeed important in long-term potentiation (LTP) of excitatory synapse strength and memory formation. However, emerging evidence supports a direct role in information processing, while storage of synaptic information may instead be mediated by regulated interaction of CaMKII with the NMDA receptor (NMDAR) complex. These and other CaMKII regulation mechanisms are discussed here in the context of the kinase structure and their impact on post-synaptic functions. Recent findings also implicate CaMKII in long-term depression (LTD), as well as functional roles at inhibitory synapses, lending renewed emphasis on better understanding the spatio-temporal control of CaMKII regulation.
CaMKII; NMDA receptor; Autonomy; Long-term Potentiation; Long-term Depression; Learning and Memory
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.
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.
Among diverse factors regulating excitatory synaptic transmission, the abundance of postsynaptic glutamate receptors figures prominently in molecular memory and learning-related synaptic plasticity. To allow for both long-term maintenance of synaptic transmission and acute changes in synaptic strength, the relative rates of glutamate receptor insertion and removal must be tightly regulated. Interactions with scaffolding proteins control the targeting and signaling properties of glutamate receptors within the postsynaptic membrane. In addition, extrasynaptic receptor populations control the equilibrium of receptor exchange at synapses and activate distinct signaling pathways involved in plasticity. Here, we review recent findings that have shaped our current understanding of receptor mobility between synaptic and extrasynaptic compartments at glutamatergic synapses, focusing on AMPA and NMDA receptors. We also examine the cooperative relationship between intracellular trafficking and surface diffusion of glutamate receptors that underlies the expression of learning-related synaptic plasticity.
Background: NMDA receptors mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission.
Results: NMDA receptors in lipid bilayers were imaged during activation using fast-scan atomic force microscopy.
Conclusion: The height of the receptor fell rapidly by ∼1 nm upon activation.
Significance: Our study provides a glimpse into the behavior of individual NMDA receptors under near-physiological conditions.
NMDA receptors are widely expressed in the central nervous system and play a major role in excitatory synaptic transmission and plasticity. Here, we used atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging to visualize activation-induced structural changes in the GluN1/GluN2A NMDA receptor reconstituted into a lipid bilayer. In the absence of agonist, AFM imaging revealed two populations of particles with heights above the bilayer surface of 8.6 and 3.4 nm. The taller, but not the shorter, particles could be specifically decorated by an anti-GluN1 antibody, which recognizes the S2 segment of the agonist-binding domain, indicating that the two populations represent the extracellular and intracellular regions of the receptor, respectively. In the presence of glycine and glutamate, there was a reduction in the height of the extracellular region to 7.3 nm. In contrast, the height of the intracellular domain was unaffected. Fast-scan AFM imaging combined with UV photolysis of caged glutamate permitted the detection of a rapid reduction in the height of individual NMDA receptors. The reduction in height did not occur in the absence of the co-agonist glycine or in the presence of the selective NMDA receptor antagonist d(−)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid, indicating that the observed structural change was caused by receptor activation. These results represent the first demonstration of an activation-induced effect on the structure of the NMDA receptor at the single-molecule level. A change in receptor size following activation could have important functional implications, in particular by affecting interactions between the NMDA receptor and its extracellular synaptic partners.
Atomic Force Microscopy; Glutamate Receptors; Ion Channels; Membrane Proteins; Molecular Imaging; Neurotransmitter Receptors; Protein Dynamics; Protein Structure; Receptor Structure-Function