The insertion and removal of N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors from the synapse are critical events that modulate synaptic plasticity. While a great deal of progress has been made on understanding the mechanisms that modulate trafficking of NMDA receptors, we do not currently understand the molecular events required for the fusion of receptor containing vesicles with the plasma membrane. Here we show that sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase3 (also known as neutral sphingomyelinase-2; nSMase2) is critical for TNFα-induced trafficking of NMDA receptors and synaptic plasticity. TNFα initiated a rapid increase in ceramide that was associated with increased surface localization of NMDA receptor NR1 subunits and a specific clustering of NR1 phosphorylated on serines 896 and 897 into lipid rafts. Brief applications of TNFα increased the rate and amplitude of NMDA-evoked calcium bursts and enhanced excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). Pharmacological inhibition or genetic mutation of nSMase2 prevented TNFα-induced generation of ceramide, phosphorylation of NR1 subuints, clustering of NR1, enhancement of NMDA-evoked calcium flux and EPSCs.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are ligand-gated ion channels activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate. These channels are highly expressed by brain neurons and are critically involved in excitatory synaptic transmission. Results from previous studies show that both native and recombinant NMDA receptors are inhibited by ethanol at concentrations associated with signs of behavioral impairment and intoxication. Given the important role that NMDA receptors play in synaptic transmission and brain function, it is important to understand the factors that regulate the ethanol inhibition of these receptors. One dynamic mechanism for regulating ethanol action may be via phosphorylation of NMDA subunits by serine-threonine and tyrosine kinases. Both NR1 and NR2 subunits contain multiple sites of phosphorylation and in the NR1 subunit, most of these are contained within the C1 domain, a carboxy-terminal cassette that is subject to alternative splicing. While results from our previous studies suggest that single phosphorylation sites do not greatly affect ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors, it is likely that in vivo, these subunits are phosphorylated at multiple sites by different kinases. In the present study, we constructed a series of NMDA receptor mutants at serine (S) or threonine (T) residues proposed to be sites of phosphorylation by PKA and various isoforms of PKC. Ethanol (100 mM) inhibited currents from wild-type NR1/2A and NR1/2B receptors expressed in HEK293 cells by approximately 25% and 30% respectively. This inhibition was not different in single site mutants expressing alanine (A) or aspartate/glutamate (D/E) at positions T879, S896 or T900. The mutant NR1(S890D) showed greater ethanol inhibition than NR1(890A) containing receptors although this was only observed when it was combined with the NR2A subunit. Ethanol inhibition was not altered by aspartate substitution at four serines (positions 889, 890, 896, 897) or when T879D was added to the four serine-substituted mutant. Ethanol inhibition was increased when T900E was added to the five serine/threonine substituted mutant but again this was selective for NR2A containing receptors. Together with previously published data, these findings suggest that modification of putative phosphorylation sites could contribute to the overall acute ethanol sensitivity of recombinant NMDA receptors. Supported by R37 AA009986.
PKA; PKC; phosphorylation; electrophysiology; alcohol
Glutamate-induced neuronal damage is mainly caused by overactivation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Conversely, normal physiological brain function and neuronal survival require adequate activation of NMDA receptors. Studies have revealed that NMDA receptor-induced neuronal death or survival is mediated through distinct subset of NMDA receptors triggering different intracellular signaling pathways. Here we discuss recent advances in the characterization of NMDA receptors in neuronal protection, emphasizing subunit-specific role, which contributes to temporal-spatial distribution, subcellular localization and diverse channel properties of NMDA receptors.
NMDA receptors; glutamate; excitotoxicity; ischemia; neuroprotection
Modification of NMDA receptor function and trafficking contributes to the regulation of synaptic transmission and is important for several forms of synaptic plasticity. Here, we report that NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B have two distinct clusters of palmitoylation sites in their C-terminal region. Palmitoylation within the first cluster on a membrane proximal region increases tyrosine phosphorylation of tyrosine-based internalization motifs by Src family protein tyrosine kinases, leading to enhanced stable surface expression of NMDA receptors. In addition, palmitoylation of these sites regulates constitutive internalization of the NMDA receptor in developing neurons. In marked contrast, palmitoylation of the second cluster in the middle of C-terminus by distinct palmitoyl transferases causes receptors to accumulate in the Golgi apparatus and reduces receptor surface expression. These data suggest that regulated palmitoylation of NR2 subunits differentially modulate receptor trafficking and may be important for NMDA receptor dependent synaptic plasticity.
The effects of ethanol on brain function are thought to be due in part to alterations in the activity of ion channels that regulate synaptic activity. Results from previous studies from this lab and others have shown that ethanol inhibits the function of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, a calcium-permeable ion channel activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate. Factors that alter the acute sensitivity of NMDA receptors to ethanol may be critical in determining how neurons and neuronal networks respond to the presence of ethanol. In this study, we have examined the effect of physiologically relevant concentrations of magnesium on the ethanol sensitivity of recombinant NMDA receptors and how ethanol inhibition under these conditions is influenced by the NR3A subunit.
Recombinant cDNAs encoding NMDA receptor subunits were expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells. Whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology was used to measure currents induced by rapid application of glutamate in the absence and presence of ethanol.
In magnesium-free recording solution, ethanol inhibited glutamate-mediated currents in cells transfected with NMDA receptor subunits. The magnitude of ethanol inhibition was significantly enhanced when recordings were carried out in media containing 1 mM magnesium. This effect was reversible and required magnesium-sensitive receptors. Magnesium did not enhance ethanol inhibition of glycine-activated NR1/NR3A/NR3B receptors. However, NR3A co-expression prevented the enhancement of ethanol's inhibitory effect on receptors composed of NR2A but not NR2B subunits.
These results suggest that under physiological conditions, NR3A may be an important regulator of the acute ethanol sensitivity of brain NMDA receptors
electrophysiology; addiction; glutamate; HEK cells
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are ion channels activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate and are highly expressed by neurons. These receptors are critical for excitatory synaptic signaling and inhibition of NMDA receptors leads to impaired cognition and learning. Ethanol inhibits NMDA currents at concentrations associated with intoxication and this action may underlie some of the behavioral effects of ethanol. Although numerous sites and mechanisms of action have been tested, the manner in which ethanol inhibits NMDA receptors remains unclear. Recent findings in the literature suggest that ethanol, via facilitation of tyrosine phosphatase activity, may dephosphorylate key tyrosine residues in the C-terminus of GluN2B subunits resulting in diminished channel function. To directly test this hypothesis, we engineered GluN2B mutants that contained phenylalanine in place of tyrosine at three different sites and transiently expressed them with the GluN1 subunit in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells. Whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology was used to record glutamate-activated currents in the absence and presence of ethanol (10–600 mM). All mutants were functional and did not differ from one another with respect to current amplitude, steady-state to peak ratio, or magnesium block. Analysis of ethanol dose-response curves showed no significant difference in IC50 values between wild-type receptors and Y1252F, Y1336F, Y1472F or triple Y-F mutants. These findings suggest that dephosphorylation of C-terminal tyrosine residues does not account for ethanol inhibition of GluN2B receptors.
Ethanol; phosphorylation; GluN2B; Electrophysiology
Changes in synaptic strength mediated by ionotropic glutamate N-methyl-d-asparate (NMDA) receptors is generally considered to be the molecular mechanism underlying memory and learning. NMDA receptors themselves are subject to regulation through signaling pathways that are activated by G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). In this study we investigate the ability of NMDA receptors to regulate the signaling of GPCRs by focusing on the Gq/11-coupled M3-muscarinic receptor expressed endogenously in mouse cerebellar granule neurons. We show that NMDA receptor activation results in the phosphorylation and desensitization of M3-muscarinic receptors through a mechanism dependent on NMDA-mediated calcium influx and the activity of calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II. Our study reveals a complex pattern of regulation where GPCRs (M3-muscarinic) and NMDA receptors can feedback on each other in a process that is likely to influence the threshold value of signaling networks involved in synaptic plasticity.
N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) at a subtoxic concentration (100 μM) promotes neuronal survival against glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity via a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) autocrine loop in cultured cerebellar granule cells. The signal transduction mechanism(s) underlying NMDA neuroprotection, however, remains elusive. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3-K) pathways alter gene expression and are involved in synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival. This study tested whether neuroprotective activation of NMDA receptors, together with TrkB receptors, coactivated the MAPK or PI3-K pathways to protect rat cerebellar neurons. NMDA receptor activation caused a concentration- and time-dependent activation of MAPK lasting 24 hr. This activation was blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 but was attenuated only partially by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor k252a, suggesting that activation of both NMDA and TrkB receptors are required for maximal neuroprotection. The MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 (10 μM) partially blocked NMDA neuroprotection, whereas LY294002, a selective inhibitor of the PI3-K pathway, did not affect the neuroprotective activity of NMDA. Glutamate excitotoxicity decreased bcl-2, bcl-XL, and bax mRNA levels,. NMDA increases Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL protein levels and decreases Bax protein levels. NMDA and TrkB receptor activation thus converge on the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 signaling pathway to protect neurons against glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity. By increasing antiapoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family, NMDA receptor activation may also promote neuronal survival by preventing apoptosis. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
NMDA; cerebellar granule cells; TrkB receptors; MAPK; Akt; BDNF; excitotoxicity; glutamate; Bcl-2; Bcl-XL; Bax
Glutamatergic synapses play critical roles in brain functions and diseases. Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a most effective cellular model for investigating the synaptic changes that underlie learning as well as brain disease – although different molecular mechanisms are likely involved in LTP in physiological and pathological conditions. In the case of learning, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is known to be important for triggering learning-related plasticity; alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic (AMPA) receptors are thought to be important for the expression of synaptic changes. In this review, I will examine recent evidence on the novel roles of NMDA receptors, in particular NR2B subunit-containing NMDA receptors in learning and chronic pain. A positive feedback control of NR2B receptor subunit is proposed to explain cortical sensitization involved in chronic pain, but not learning and memory.
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.
Delayed-rectifier Kv2.1 channels are the principal component of voltage-sensitive K+ currents (IK) in hippocampal neurons and are critical regulators of somatodendritic excitability. In a recent study, we demonstrated that surface trafficking and phosphorylation of Kv2.1 channels is modulated by NMDA-type glutamate receptors and that astroglial excitatory amino acid transporters 2 (EAAT2) regulate the coupling of NMDA receptors and Kv2.1 channels. Since ethanol is known to acutely inhibit NMDA receptors, we sought to determine if NMDA receptor and astroglial EAAT2 modulation of Kv2.1 channels is impaired by ethanol in rodent hippocampus. As expected, bath application of NMDA to hippocampal cultures reduced the size of Kv2.1 clusters and produced a hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage-dependent activation of IK that was associated with dephosphorylated Kv2.1 channels. Ethanol, applied acutely, prevented the hyperpolarizing shift in activation of IK induced by NMDA and restored Kv2.1 clustering and phosphorylation to near control levels. Ethanol also attenuated the dephosphorylation of Kv2.1 channels produced by the EAAT2 selective inhibitor dihydrokainic acid. These data demonstrate that acute ethanol disrupts changes in Kv2.1 channels that follow NMDA receptor activation and impairs astroglial regulation of the functional coupling between NMDA receptors and Kv2.1 channels.
Kv2.1 channels; NMDA receptors; ethanol; astroglial EAAT2; phosphorylation; clustering
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
Sensitization of dorsal horn neurons (DHNs) in the spinal cord is dependent on pain-related synaptic plasticity and causes persistent pain. The DHN sensitization is mediated by a signal transduction pathway initiated by the activation of NMDA receptors (NMDA-Rs). Recent studies have shown that elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and phosphorylation-dependent trafficking of GluA2 subunit of AMPA receptors (AMPA-Rs) are a part of the signaling pathway for DHN sensitization. However, the relationship between ROS and AMPA-R phosphorylation and trafficking is not known. Thus, this study investigated the effects of ROS scavengers on the phosphorylation and cell-surface localization of GluA1 and GluA2. Intrathecal NMDA- and intradermal capsaicin-induced hyperalgesic mice were used for this study since both pain models share the NMDA-R activation-dependent DHN sensitization in the spinal cord. Our behavioral, biochemical, and immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated that: 1) NMDA-R activation in vivo increased the phosphorylation of AMPA-Rs at GluA1 (S818, S831, and S845) and GluA2 (S880) subunits, 2) NMDA-R activation in vivo increased cell-surface localization of GluA1 but decreased that of GluA2, and 3) reduction of ROS levels by ROS scavengers PBN or TEMPOL reversed these changes in AMPA-Rs, as well as pain-related behavior. Given that AMPA-R trafficking to the cell surface and synapse is regulated by NMDA-R activation-dependent phosphorylation of GluA1 and GluA2, our study suggests that the ROS-dependent changes in the phosphorylation and cell-surface localization of AMPA-Rs are necessary for DHN sensitization and thus pain-related behavior. We further suggest that ROS reduction will ameliorate these molecular changes and pain.
glutamate receptor; synaptic plasticity; reactive oxygen species; persistent pain; chronic pain; central sensitization
NMDA spikes are prominent in the basal dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons and greatly expand their ability to integrate synaptic inputs. Calcium (Ca) signals during these spikes are important for synaptic plasticity and fundamentally depend on activation of NMDA receptors. However, the factors that shape the activation of these receptors and the initiation of NMDA spikes remain unclear. Here we examine the properties of NMDA spikes in the basal dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons in the mouse prefrontal cortex. Using two-photon imaging, we demonstrate that NMDA spikes evoke large Ca signals in both postsynaptic spines and nearby dendrites. We find that the dendrite Ca signals depend on NMDA and AMPA receptors but not sodium (Na) or Ca channels. Using voltage-clamp recordings, we show that activation of dendrite NMDA receptors is enhanced by concerted synaptic activity. Blocking glutamate re-uptake further increases activation of these receptors and promotes the initiation of NMDA spikes. We conclude that glutamate spillover and recruitment of extra-synaptic receptors contribute to the initiation of NMDA spikes. These results have important implications for how synaptic activity generates both electrical and biochemical signals in dendrites and spines.
NMDA receptor; NMDA spike; glutamate spillover; prefrontal cortex; pyramidal neuron; dendrite; spine; two-photon microscopy
Chronic morphine treatment resulting in the alteration of postsynaptic levels of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors thereby modulating synaptic strength has been reported. Yet, the mechanism underlying such drug-induced synaptic modification has not been resolved. By monitoring the GluR1 trafficking in primary hippocampal neurons using the pHluorin-GluR1 imaging and biotinylation studies, we observed prolonged morphine exposure significantly induced loss of synaptic and extra-synaptic GluR1 by internalization. The morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis was independent of neural network activities or N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activities as neither blocking the sodium channels with tetrodotoxin nor NMDA receptors with DL-APV altered the effects of morphine. Instead, morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis is attributed to a change in the phosphorylation state of the GluR1 at Ser845 as morphine significantly decreased the dephosphorylation of GluR1 at this site. Such change in Ser845 phosphorylation required morphine-induced activation of calcineurin, based on the observations that a calcineurin inhibitor FK506 completely abrogated the dephosphorylation, and morphine treatment led to an increase in calcineurin enzymatic activity, even in the presence of DL-APV. Importantly, pretreatment with FK506 and overexpression of the GluR1 mutants, S845D (phospho-mimic) or S845A (phospho-blocking), attenuated the morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis. Therefore, the calcineurin-mediated GluR1-S845 dephosphorylation is critical for the morphine-induced changes in the postsynaptic AMPA receptor level. Together, these findings reveal a novel molecular mechanism for opioid-induced neuronal adaptation and/or synaptic impairment.
Morphine; AMPA receptors; GluR1; internalization; calcineurin; dephosphorylation
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are associated with many forms of synaptic plasticity. Their expression level and subunit composition undergo developmental changes in several brain regions. In the mouse cerebellum, beside a developmental switch between NR2B and NR2A/C subunits in granule cells, functional postsynaptic NMDA receptors are seen in Purkinje cells of neonate and adult but not juvenile rat and mice. A presynaptic effect of NMDA on GABA release by cerebellar interneurons was identified recently. Nevertheless whereas NMDA receptor subunits are detected on parallel fiber terminals, a presynaptic effect of NMDA on spontaneous release of glutamate has not been demonstrated. Using mouse cerebellar cultures and patch-clamp recordings we show that NMDA facilitates glutamate release onto Purkinje cells in young cultures via a presynaptic mechanism, whereas NMDA activates extrasynaptic receptors in Purkinje cells recorded in old cultures. The presynaptic effect of NMDA on glutamate release is also observed in Purkinje cells recorded in acute slices prepared from juvenile but not from adult mice and requires a specific protocol of NMDA application.
AMPA and NMDA receptors convey fast synaptic transmission in the CNS. Their relative contribution to synaptic output and phosphorylation state regulate synaptic plasticity. The AMPA receptor subunit GluA1 is central in synaptic plasticity. Phosphorylation of GluA1 regulates channel properties and trafficking. The firing rate averaged over several hundred ms is used to monitor cellular input. However, plasticity requires the timing of spiking within a few ms; therefore, it is important to understand how phosphorylation governs these events. Here, we investigate whether the GluA1 phosphorylation (p-GluA1) alters the spiking patterns of CA1 cells in vivo. The antidepressant Tianeptine was used for inducing p-GluA1, which resulted in enhanced AMPA-evoked spiking. By comparing the spiking patterns of AMPA-evoked activity with matched firing rates, we show that the spike-trains after Tianeptine application show characteristic features, distinguishing from spike-trains triggered by strong AMPA stimulation. The interspike-interval distributions are different between the two groups, suggesting that neuronal output may differ when new inputs are activated compared to increasing the gain of previously activated receptors. Furthermore, we also show that NMDA evokes spiking with different patterns to AMPA spike-trains. These results support the role of the modulation of NMDAR/AMPAR ratio and p-GluA1 in plasticity and temporal coding.
Glutamate, acting through its N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA receptors in the hypothalamus, regulates reproductive neuroendocrine functions via direct and indirect actions upon gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones. Previous studies indicate that the NMDA receptor subunit NR2b undergoes changes in protein and gene expression in the hypothalamus in general, and on GnRH neurones in particular, during reproductive ageing. In the present study, we examined whether the NR2b-expressing cell population, both alone and in association with the NR1 subunit (i.e. the latter subunit is necessary for a functional NMDA receptor), is altered as a function of age and/or steroid hormone treatment. Studies focused on the anteroventral periventricular (AVPV) nucleus of the hypothalamus, a region critically involved in the control of reproduction. Young (3-5 months), middle-aged (9-12 months), and aged (approximately 22 months) female rats were ovariectomised and, 1 month later, they were treated sequentially with oestradiol plus progesterone, oestradiol plus vehicle, or vehicle plus vehicle, then perfused. Quantitative stereologic analysis of NR2b-immunoreactive cell numbers in the AVPV showed an age-associated decrease in the density of NR2b-immunoreactive cells, but no effect of hormone treatment. In a second study, immunofluorescent double labelling of NR2b and NR1 was analysed by confocal microscopy of fraction volume, a semi-quantitative measure of fluorescence intensity. No effect of ageing was detected for immunofluorescent NR1 or NR2b alone, whereas the NR2b fraction volume increased in the oestradiol plus vehicle group. With ageing, the fraction volume of the NR2b/NR1-colocalised subunits increased. Together with the stereology results, this suggests that, although fewer cells express the NR2b subunit in the ageing AVPV, a greater percentage of these subunits are co-expressed with NR1. Our results suggest that the subunit composition of NMDA receptors in the AVPV undergo both age- and hormonal-regulation, which may be related to previous observations of changes in functional responses of reproductive neuroendocrine systems to NMDA receptor modulators with ageing.
N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDA receptor); NR2b; reproductive ageing; oestrogen; gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH); glutamate
Activation of glutamate receptors is known to modulate K+ channel surface trafficking, phosphorylation, and function, and increasing evidence has implicated K+ channels in plastic changes in glutamatergic synapses. Kv4.2 channels control the amplitude of back-propagating action potentials and shape postsynaptic responses in hippocampus, and synaptic glutamate receptor activation leads to increased phosphorylation of Kv4.2 channels that is associated with enhanced synaptic plasticity. Thus, we investigated the possibility that activation of extrasynaptic NMDA-type glutamate receptors couples to Kv4.2 channel dephosphorylation. In hippocampal neurons, we found that selective activation of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors dephosphorylates Kv4.2 channels, and driving synaptic activity increases phosphorylation of Kv4.2. We also observed that Ca2+ entry through NMDA receptors is necessary for dephosphorylation of Kv4.2 channels. Consistent with a synaptic and extrasynaptic localization at hippocampal synapses, a fraction of Kv4.2 channel clusters was found to localize outside of pre- and postsynaptic markers. Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) regulate ambient extracellular glutamate levels that active extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, and inhibition of glutamate uptake by blocking EAATs with the non-selective transporter inhibitor TBOA or the EAAT1/3 selective inhibitor SOS dephosphorylates Kv4.2 channels. These findings in conjunction with previous reports support the interesting possibility that synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors bi-directionally regulate phosphorylation levels of Kv4.2 channels in hippocampus. Moreover, we observed that EAAT activity controls extrasynaptic NMDA receptor modulation of Kv4.2 channel dephosphorylation.
Hippocampus; A-type K+ channels; Excitatory amino acid transporters
Homeostatic chemokines, such as CXCL12, can affect neuronal activity by the regulation of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission, but the mechanisms involved are still undefined. Our previous studies have shown that CXCL12 protects cortical neurons from excitotoxicity by promoting the function of the gene-repressor protein Rb, which is involved in the recruitment of chromatin modifiers (such as histone deacetylases (HDACs)) to gene promoters. In neurons, Rb controls activity-dependent genes essential to neuronal plasticity and survival, such as the N-methyl--aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor's subunit NR2B, the expression of which in the tetrameric ion channel largely affects calcium signaling by glutamate. In this study, we report that CXCL12 differentially modulates intracellular responses after stimulation of synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, by a specific regulation of the NR2B gene that involves HDACs. Our results show that CXCL12 selectively inhibits NR2B expression in vitro and in vivo altering NMDA-induced calcium responses associated with neuronal death, while promoting prosurvival pathways that depend on stimulation of synaptic receptors. Along with previous studies, these findings underline the role of CXCL12/CXCR4 in the regulation of crucial components of glutamatergic transmission. These novel effects of CXCL12 may be involved in the physiological function of the chemokine in both developing and mature brains.
chemokine; neuron; CXCR4; cell death; calcium
Previous studies have shown that the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is an important target for the actions of ethanol in the brain. NMDA receptors are glutamate-activated ion channels that are highly expressed in neurons. They are activated during periods of significant glutamatergic synaptic activity and are an important source of the signaling molecule calcium in the post-synaptic spine. Alterations in the function of NMDA receptors by drugs or disease are associated with deficits in motor, sensory and cognitive processes of the brain. Acutely, ethanol inhibits ion flow through NMDA receptors while sustained exposure to ethanol can induce compensatory changes in the density and localization of the receptor. Defining factors that govern the acute ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors is an important step in how an individual responds to ethanol. In the present study, we investigated the effect of calcium-calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) on the ethanol sensitivity of recombinant NMDA receptors. CaMKII is a major constituent of the post-synaptic density and is critically involved in various forms of learning and memory. NMDA receptor subunits were transiently expressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells (HEK 293) along with CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β tagged with the green fluorescent protein (GFP). Whole cell currents were elicited by brief exposures to glutamate and were measured using patchclamp electrophysiology. Neither CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β had any significant effect on the ethanol inhibition of NR1/2A or NR1/2B receptors. Ethanol inhibition was also unaltered by deletion of CaMKII binding domains in NR1 or NR2 subunits or by phospho-site mutants that mimic or occlude CaMKII phosphorylation. Chronic treatment of cortical neurons with ethanol had no significant effect on the expression of CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β. The results of this study suggest that CaMKII is not involved in regulating the acute ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors.
electrophysiology; alcohol; ion channel; kinase; phosphorylation
The general features of neuroplasticity are developmentally regulated. Although it has been hypothesized that the loss of plasticity in mature neurons may be due to synaptic saturation and functional reduction of NMDA receptors (NMDAR), the molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. We examined the effects of NMDAR activation and KCl-mediated membrane depolarization on ERK1/2 signaling following in vitro maturation of cultured cortical neurons. Although NMDA stimulated robust increase of intracellular calcium at both DIV (day in vitro) 3 and 14, the activation of ERK1/2 and CREB was impaired at DIV 14. Specifically, the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was stimulated by both NMDA and KCl at DIV 3. However, at DIV 14, NMDA-, but not KCl-stimulated ERK1/2 and CREB phosphorylation was significantly diminished. Consistently, the NMDA-induced transcription of ERK/CREB-regulated genes Bdnf exon 4, Arc and zif268 was significantly attenuated at DIV 14. Moreover, compared to DIV 3 neurons, the basal level of phosphorylated-ERK1/2 in DIV 14 neurons increased tremendously following maturation, and was more susceptible to dephosphorylation. Blocking calcium channels by nifedipine or NMDAR by APV caused more dramatic ERK dephosphorylation in DIV 14 neurons. We further demonstrate that the loss of plasticity-related signaling is unrelated to NMDA-induced cell death of the DIV 14 neurons. Taken together, these results suggest that the attenuation of certain aspects of neuroplasticity following maturation may be due to the reduction of NMDAR-mediated gene transcription and a saturation of ERK1/2 activity.
NMDA receptors; BDNF; ERK; CREB; Ca2+-stimulated signaling; neuronal maturation
The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor expressed at excitatory glutamatergic synapses is required for learning and memory and is critical for normal brain function. At a cellular level, this receptor plays a pivotal role in triggering and controlling synaptic plasticity. While it has been long recognized that this receptor plays a regulatory role, it was considered by many to be itself immune to synaptic activity-induced plasticity. More recently, we and others have shown that NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses can be subject to activity-dependent depression.
Here we show that depression of synaptic transmission mediated by NMDA receptors displays a state-dependence in its plasticity; NMDA receptors are resistant to activity-induced changes at silent and recently-silent synapses. Once synapses transition to the active state however, NMDA receptors become fully 'plastic'. This state-dependence is identical to that shown by the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor. Furthermore, the down-regulation of NMDAR-mediated responses during synaptic depression is prevented by disruption of dynamin-dependent endocytosis.
NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses are plastic in a state-dependent manner. Depending on the plasticity state in which a synapse currently resides, NMDA receptors will either be available or unavailable for down-regulation. The mechanism underlying the down-regulation of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses is endocytosis of the NMDA receptor. Other potential mechanisms, such as receptor diffusion along the plane of the membrane, or changes in the activity of the channel are not supported. The mechanisms of AMPA receptor and NMDA receptor endocytosis appear to be tightly coupled, as both are either available or unavailable for endocytosis in the same synaptic states. Endocytosis of NMDA receptors would serve as a potent mechanism for metaplasticity. Such state-dependent regulation of NMDAR endocytosis will provide fundamental control over downstream NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity of neuronal circuitry.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors constitute a major subtype of glutamate receptors at extra-synaptic sites that link multiple intracellular catabolic processes responsible for irreversible neuronal death. Here, we report that cerebral ischemia recruits death-associated protein kinase 1 (DAPK1) into the NMDA receptor NR2B protein complex in the cortex of adult mice. DAPK1 directly binds with the NMDA receptor NR2B C-terminal tail consisting of amino acid 1292–1304 (NR2BCT). A constitutively active DAPK1 phosphorylates NR2B subunit at Ser-1303 and in turn enhances the NR1/NR2B receptor channel conductance. Genetic deletion of DAPK1 or administration of NR2BCT that uncouples an activated DAPK1 from an NMDA receptor NR2B subunit in vivo in mice blocks injurious Ca2+ influx through NMDA receptor channels at extrasynaptic sites and protects neurons against cerebral ischemic insults. Thus, DAPK1 physically and functionally interacts with the NMDA receptor NR2B subunit at extra-synaptic sites and this interaction acts as a central mediator for stroke damage.
Ample evidence supports a role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the survival and differentiation of selective populations of neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems. In addition to its trophic actions, BDNF exerts acute effects on synaptic transmission and plasticity. In particular, BDNF enhances excitatory synaptic transmission through pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. In this regard, BDNF enhances glutamate release, the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), NMDA receptor activity and the phosphorylation of NMDA receptor subunits. Our recent studies revealed a novel cooperative interaction between BDNF and glutamate in the regulation of dendritic development. Indeed, we found that the effects of BDNF on dendritic growth of cortical neurons require both the stimulation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation by BDNF and the activation of the CREB-regulated transcription coactivator 1 (CRTC1) by glutamate. Together, these studies highlight the importance of the cooperation between BDNF and glutamate in the regulation of synaptic transmission and neuronal development.
BDNF; CREB; CRTC; dendrite; glutamate; neuronal development; NMDA receptors; TORC; synaptic transmission