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1.  Regulation of endosomal motility and degradation by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 2/alsin 
Molecular Brain  2009;2:23.
Dysfunction of alsin, particularly its putative Rab5 guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor activity, has been linked to one form of juvenile onset recessive familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2). Multiple lines of alsin knockout (ALS2-/-) mice have been generated to model this disease. However, it remains elusive whether the Rab5-dependent endocytosis is altered in ALS2-/- neurons. To directly examine the Rab5-mediated endosomal trafficking in ALS2-/- neurons, we introduced green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged Rab5 into cultured hippocampal neurons to monitor the morphology and motility of Rab5-associated early endosomes. Here we report that Rab5-mediated endocytosis was severely altered in ALS2-/-neurons. Excessive accumulation of Rab5-positive vesicles was observed in ALS2-/- neurons, which correlated with a significant reduction in endosomal motility and augmentation in endosomal conversion to lysosomes. Consequently, a significant increase in endosome/lysosome-dependent degradation of internalized glutamate receptors was observed in ALS2-/- neurons. These phenotypes closely resembled the endosomal trafficking abnormalities induced by a constitutively active form of Rab5 in wild-type neurons. Therefore, our findings reveal a negatively regulatory mechanism of alsin in Rab5-mediated endosomal trafficking, suggesting that enhanced endosomal degradation in ALS2-/- neurons may underlie the pathogenesis of motor neuron degeneration in ALS2 and related motor neuron diseases.
PMCID: PMC2724476  PMID: 19630956
2.  Alsin and the Molecular Pathways of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
Molecular neurobiology  2007;36(3):224-231.
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a clinical spectrum of motor dysfunction including juvenile onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis, and hereditary spastic paraplegia. The 184-kDa alsin protein, encoded by the full-length ALS2 gene, contains three different guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor-like domains, which may play a role in the etiology of the disease. Multiple in vitro biochemical and cell biology assays suggest that alsin dysfunction affects endosome trafficking through a Rab5 small GTPase family-mediated mechanism. Four ALS2-deficient mouse models have been generated by different groups and used to study the behavioral and pathological impact of alsin deficiency. These mouse models largely fail to recapitulate hallmarks of motor neuron disease, but the subtle deficits that are observed in behavior and pathology have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor dysfunction. In this review, we summarize recent clinical and molecular reports regarding alsin and attempt to place these results within the larger context of motor neuron disease.
PMCID: PMC2364715  PMID: 17955197
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); ALS2; Alsin; Rab5; Mouse model; Guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
3.  ALS2/Alsin Knockout Mice and Motor Neuron Diseases 
Neuro-Degenerative Diseases  2008;5(6):359-366.
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene have been linked to juvenile-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis and juvenile-onset ascending hereditary spastic paraplegia. Except for two recently identified missense mutations, all other mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a premature stop codon and likely abrogate all the potential functions of alsin, the protein encoded by the ALS2 gene. To study the pathologic mechanisms of ALS2 deficiency, four different lines of ALS2 knockout (ALS2–/–) mice have been generated by independent groups. The loss of ALS2/alsin does not have a drastic effect on the survival or function of motor neurons in mice. However, subtle deficits observed in the behavior and pathology of these mice have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor neuron dysfunction. In this review, we summarize and reconcile major findings of ALS2–/– mice and attempt to place these results within the larger context of modeling recessive movement disorders in mice.
PMCID: PMC2556598  PMID: 18714162
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS2; Alsin; Knockout mice; Mouse model; Guanine nucleotide exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
4.  ALS2/Alsin Knockout Mice and Motor Neuron Diseases 
Neuro-degenerative diseases  2008;5(6):359-366.
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene have been linked to juvenile-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis and juvenile-onset ascending hereditary spastic paraplegia. Except for two recently identified missense mutations, all other mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a premature stop codon and likely abrogate all the potential functions of alsin, the protein encoded by the ALS2 gene. To study the pathologic mechanisms of ALS2 deficiency, four different lines of ALS2 knockout (ALS2−/−) mice have been generated by independent groups. The loss of ALS2/alsin does not have a drastic effect on the survival or function of motor neurons in mice. However, subtle deficits observed in the behavior and pathology of these mice have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor neuron dysfunction. In this review, we summarize and reconcile major findings of ALS2−/− mice and attempt to place these results within the larger context of modeling recessive movement disorders in mice.
PMCID: PMC2556598  PMID: 18714162
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS2; Alsin; Knockout mice; Mouse model; Guanine nucleotide exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
5.  Altered pre-symptomatic AMPA and cannabinoid receptor trafficking in motor neurons of ALS model mice: implications for excitotoxicity 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder involving the selective loss of spinal cord motor neurons. Excitotoxicity mediated by glutamate has been implicated as a cause of this progressive degeneration. In this study we examined two types of receptors, the excitatory AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) and inhibitory cannabinoid receptor (CB1) with respect to their localization and total expression in spinal cord motor neurons. AMPAR and CB1 represent major excitatory and inhibitory transmission input respectively and their expression levels on the plasma membrane have direct relevance to the vulnerability of the motor neurons to glutamatergic excitotoxicity. We used quantitative immunofluorescence microscopy to comparatively measure the total cellular expression and the synaptic localization of specific subclasses of AMPARs (as determined by the presence of the subunits GluR1 or GluR2) and cannabinoid receptors (CB1) in spinal cord motor neurons during disease progression in a G93ASOD1 mouse model of ALS. We found an increase in synaptic GluR1 and a decrease of synaptic and total GluR2 at early ages (6 weeks, prior to disease onset). Total CB1 receptor levels were decreased at 6 weeks of age. We determined gene expression of CB1, GluR1, and GluR2 using quantitative real time RT-PCR. The decreased synaptic and total GluR2 and increased synaptic GluR1 levels may result in increased numbers of Ca2+ -permeable AMPARs, thus contributing to neuronal death. Early alterations in CB1 expression may also predispose motor neurons to excitotoxicity. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of presymptomatic changes in trafficking of receptors that are in direct control of excitotoxicity and death in a mouse model of ALS.
PMCID: PMC3991137  PMID: 18279310
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; AMPA receptor; cannabinoid receptor; excitotoxicity; G93A; glutamate receptor; spinal cord
6.  Exposure of Neurons to Excitotoxic Levels of Glutamate Induces Cleavage of ADAR2 and Loss of GluR2 Editing 
Neuroscience  2011;189:305-315.
AMPA receptors are glutamate receptors that are tetramers of various combinations of GluR1-4 subunits. AMPA receptors containing GluR1, 3 and 4 are Ca2+ permeable, however, AMPA receptors containing even a single subunit of GluR2 are Ca2+ impermeable. Most AMPA receptors are Ca2+ impermeable due to the presence of GluR2. GluR2 confers special properties on AMPA receptors through the presence of arginine at the pore apex; other subunits (GluR1, 3, 4) contain glutamine at the pore apex and allow Ca2+ influx. Normally, an RNA editing step changes DNA-encoded glutamine to arginine, introduces arginine in the GluR2 pore apex. GluR2 RNA editing is carried out by an RNA-dependent adenosine deaminase (ADAR2). Loss of GluR2 editing leads to the formation of highly excitotoxic AMPA channels (Mahajan and Ziff, 2007) and is shown to contribute to loss of motor neurons in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Relatively higher levels of Ca2+ permeable AMPA receptors are found in motor neurons and this has been correlated with lower GluR2 mRNA levels. However, the reason for loss of GluR2 editing is not known. Here we show that exposure of neurons to excitotoxic levels of glutamate leads to specific cleavage of ADAR2 that leads to generation of unedited GluR2. We demonstrate that cleaved ADAR2 leads to decrease or loss of GluR2 editing, which will further result in high Ca2+ influx and excitotoxic neuronal death.
PMCID: PMC3150305  PMID: 21620933
ADAR2; excitotoxicity; RNA editing; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); AMPA receptors; calpain activation
7.  When Does ALS Start? ADAR2–GluA2 Hypothesis for the Etiology of Sporadic ALS 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common adult-onset motor neuron disease. More than 90% of ALS cases are sporadic, and the majority of sporadic ALS patients do not carry mutations in genes causative of familial ALS; therefore, investigation specifically targeting sporadic ALS is needed to discover the pathogenesis. The motor neurons of sporadic ALS patients express unedited GluA2 mRNA at the Q/R site in a disease-specific and motor neuron-selective manner. GluA2 is a subunit of the AMPA receptor, and it has a regulatory role in the Ca2+-permeability of the AMPA receptor after the genomic Q codon is replaced with the R codon in mRNA by adenosine–inosine conversion, which is mediated by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 2 (ADAR2). Therefore, ADAR2 activity may not be sufficient to edit all GluA2 mRNA expressed in the motor neurons of ALS patients. To investigate whether deficient ADAR2 activity plays pathogenic roles in sporadic ALS, we generated genetically modified mice (AR2) in which the ADAR2 gene was conditionally knocked out in the motor neurons. AR2 mice showed an ALS-like phenotype with the death of ADAR2-lacking motor neurons. Notably, the motor neurons deficient in ADAR2 survived when they expressed only edited GluA2 in AR2/GluR-BR/R (AR2res) mice, in which the endogenous GluA2 alleles were replaced by the GluR-BR allele that encoded edited GluA2. In heterozygous AR2 mice with only one ADAR2 allele, approximately 20% of the spinal motor neurons expressed unedited GluA2 and underwent degeneration, indicating that half-normal ADAR2 activity is not sufficient to edit all GluA2 expressed in motor neurons. It is likely therefore that the expression of unedited GluA2 causes the death of motor neurons in sporadic ALS. We hypothesize that a progressive downregulation of ADAR2 activity plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of sporadic ALS and that the pathological process commences when motor neurons express unedited GluA2.
PMCID: PMC3214764  PMID: 22102833
ADAR2; RNA editing; GluA2; Q/R site; ALS; neuronal death; AMPA
8.  Modulation of synaptic function by VAC14, a protein that regulates the phosphoinositides PI(3,5)P2 and PI(5)P 
The EMBO Journal  2012;31(16):3442-3456.
Modulation of synaptic function by VAC14, a protein that regulates the phosphoinositides PI(3,5)P2 and PI(5)P
Mice deficient for VAC14, a scaffolding protein required for PIP2 biosynthesis and linked to human neuropathies, show increased postsynaptic function due to altered AMPA receptor trafficking.
Normal steady-state levels of the signalling lipids PI(3,5)P2 and PI(5)P require the lipid kinase FAB1/PIKfyve and its regulators, VAC14 and FIG4. Mutations in the PIKfyve/VAC14/FIG4 pathway are associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in humans, and profound neurodegeneration in mice. Hence, tight regulation of this pathway is critical for neural function. Here, we examine the localization and physiological role of VAC14 in neurons. We report that endogenous VAC14 localizes to endocytic organelles in fibroblasts and neurons. Unexpectedly, VAC14 exhibits a pronounced synaptic localization in hippocampal neurons, suggesting a role in regulating synaptic function. Indeed, the amplitude of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents is enhanced in both Vac14−/− and Fig4−/− neurons. Re-introduction of VAC14 in postsynaptic Vac14−/− cells reverses this effect. These changes in synaptic strength in Vac14−/− neurons are associated with enhanced surface levels of the AMPA-type glutamate receptor subunit GluA2, an effect that is due to diminished regulated endocytosis of AMPA receptors. Thus, VAC14, PI(3,5)P2 and/or PI(5)P play a role in controlling postsynaptic function via regulation of endocytic cycling of AMPA receptors.
PMCID: PMC3419932  PMID: 22842785
AMPA receptor; PIKfyve; phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate; PtdIns(3,5)P2; synapse
9.  Dynamic Loss of Surface-Expressed AMPA Receptors in Mouse Cortical and Striatal Neurons During Anesthesia 
Journal of neuroscience research  2011;90(1):315-323.
Ionotropic glutamate receptors, especially the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor subtype, undergo dynamic trafficking between the surface membrane and intracellular organelles. This trafficking activity determines the efficacy and strength of excitatory synapses and is subject to modulation by changing synaptic inputs. Given the possibility that glutamate receptors in the central nervous system might be a sensitive target of anesthetic agents, this study investigated the possible impact of anesthesia on trafficking and subcellular expression of AMPA receptors in adult mouse brain neurons in vivo. We found that anesthesia induced by a systemic injection of pentobarbital did not alter total protein levels of three AMPA receptor subunits (GluR1–3) in cortical neurons. However, an anesthetic dose of pentobarbital reduced GluR1 and GluR3 proteins in the surface pool and elevated these proteins in the intracellular pool of cortical neurons. The similar redistribution of GluR1/3 was observed in mouse striatal neurons. Pentobarbital did not significantly alter GluR2 expression in the two pools. Chloral hydrate at an anesthetic dose also reduced surface GluR1/3 expression and increased intracellular levels of these proteins. The effect of pentobarbital on subcellular distribution of AMPA receptors was reversible. Altered subcellular distribution of GluR1/3 returned to normal levels after the anesthesia subsided. These data indicate that anesthesia induced by pentobarbital and chloral hydrate can alter AMPA receptor trafficking in both cortical and striatal neurons. This alteration is characterized by the concurrent loss and addition of GluR1/3 subunits in the respective surface and intracellular pools.
PMCID: PMC3218204  PMID: 21932367
pentobarbital; chloral hydrate; glutamate; GluR1; GluR3; trafficking
10.  PTEN regulates AMPA receptor-mediated cell viability in iPS-derived motor neurons 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(2):e1096-.
Excitatory transmission in the brain is commonly mediated by the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptors. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), AMPA receptors allow cytotoxic levels of calcium into neurons, contributing to motor neuron injury. We have previously shown that oculomotor neurons resistant to the disease process in ALS show reduced AMPA-mediated inward calcium currents compared with vulnerable spinal motor neurons. We have also shown that PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10) knockdown via siRNA promotes motor neuron survival in models of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and ALS. It has been reported that inhibition of PTEN attenuates the death of hippocampal neurons post injury by decreasing the effective translocation of the GluR2 subunit into the membrane. In addition, leptin can regulate AMPA receptor trafficking via PTEN inhibition. Thus, we speculate that manipulation of AMPA receptors by PTEN may represent a potential therapeutic strategy for neuroprotective intervention in ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders. To this end, the first step is to establish a fibroblast–iPS–motor neuron in vitro cell model to study AMPA receptor manipulation. Here we report that iPS-derived motor neurons from human fibroblasts express AMPA receptors. PTEN depletion decreases AMPA receptor expression and AMPA-mediated whole-cell currents, resulting in inhibition of AMPA-induced neuronal death in primary cultured and iPS-derived motor neurons. Taken together, our results imply that PTEN depletion may protect motor neurons by inhibition of excitatory transmission that represents a therapeutic strategy of potential benefit for the amelioration of excitotoxicity in ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3944269  PMID: 24577094
PTEN; iPSCs; motor neuron; AMPA receptor
11.  A genetic screen identifies Tor as an interactor of VAPB in a Drosophila model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Biology Open  2014;3(11):1127-1138.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by selective death of motor neurons. In 5–10% of the familial cases, the disease is inherited because of mutations. One such mutation, P56S, was identified in human VAPB that behaves in a dominant negative manner, sequestering wild type protein into cytoplasmic inclusions.
We have conducted a reverse genetic screen to identify interactors of Drosophila VAPB. We screened 2635 genes and identified 103 interactors, of which 45 were enhancers and 58 were suppressors of VAPB function. Interestingly, the screen identified known ALS loci – TBPH, alsin2 and SOD1. Also identified were genes involved in cellular energetics and homeostasis which were used to build a gene regulatory network of VAPB modifiers. One key modifier identified was Tor, whose knockdown reversed the large bouton phenotype associated with VAP(P58S) expression in neurons. A similar reversal was seen by over-expressing Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (Tsc1,2) that negatively regulates TOR signaling as also by reduction of S6K activity. In comparison, the small bouton phenotype associated with VAP(wt) expression was reversed with Tsc1 knock down as well as S6K-CA expression. Tor therefore interacts with both VAP(wt) and VAP(P58S), but in a contrasting manner. Reversal of VAP(P58S) bouton phenotypes in larvae fed with the TOR inhibitor Rapamycin suggests upregulation of TOR signaling in response to VAP(P58S) expression.
The VAPB network and further mechanistic understanding of interactions with key pathways, such as the TOR cassette, will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms of onset and progression of motor neuron disease.
PMCID: PMC4232771  PMID: 25361581
VAP; Neurodegeneration; TOR; ALS; Drosophila RNAi screen
12.  Novel Toxicity of the Unedited GluR2 AMPA Receptor Subunit Dependent on Surface Trafficking and Increased Ca2+-Permeability 
RNA editing modifies the GluR2 AMPA receptor subunit pore loop at the Q/R site and limits receptor Ca2+ permeability. Editing failure is implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We show that channels with unedited GluR2 are highly toxic in cultured hippocampal neurons. Toxicity exceeds that of other Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptor types and is influenced by agonist binding site mutations, ability to desensitize, and extracellular Ca2+ levels. Significantly, toxicity also depends on GluR2’s constitutive surface trafficking, a function dependent on GluR2 C-terminal domain interaction with NSF, a specialized chaperone. We have exploited the interaction between unedited GluR2 and NSF to reduce GluR2 surface levels. We show that a peptide that blocks the GluR2-NSF interaction reduces unedited GluR2 toxicity by reducing receptor surface expression. Peptide block of trafficking provides a model for design of drugs to reduce unedited GluR2 excitotoxicity in neurodegenerative diseases that result from editing failure.
PMCID: PMC2031227  PMID: 17544687
13.  Differential Localization of the GluR1 and GluR2 Subunits of the AMPA-type Glutamate Receptor Among Striatal Neuron Types in Rats 
Journal of chemical neuroanatomy  2007;33(4):167-192.
Differences among the various striatal projection neuron and interneuron types in cortical input, function, and vulnerability to degenerative insults may be related to differences among them in AMPA-type glutamate receptor abundance and subunit configuration. We therefore used immunolabeling to assess the frequency and abundance of GluR1 and GluR2, the most common AMPA subunits in striatum, in the main striatal neuron types. All neurons projecting to the external pallidum (GPe), internal pallidum (GPi) or substantia nigra, as identified by retrograde labeling, possessed perikaryal GluR2, while GluR1 was more common in striato-GPe than striato-GPi perikarya. The frequency and intensity of immunostaining indicated the rank order of their perikaryal GluR1:GluR2 ratio to be striato-GPe > striatonigral > striato-GPi. Ultrastructural studies suggested a differential localization of GluR1 and GluR2 to striatal projection neuron dendritic spines as well, with GluR1 seemingly more common in striato-GPe spines and GluR2 more common in striato-GPi and/or striatonigral spines. Comparisons among projection neurons and interneurons revealed GluR1 to be most common and abundant in parvalbuminergic interneurons, and GluR2 most common and abundant in projection neurons, with the rank order for the GluR1:GluR2 ratio being parvalbuminergic interneurons > calretinergic interneurons > cholinergic interneurons > projection neurons > somatostatinergic interneurons. Striosomal projection neurons had a higher GluR1:GluR2 ratio than did matrix projection neurons. The abundance of both GluR1 and GluR2 in striatal parvalbuminergic interneurons and projection neurons is consistent with their prominent cortical input and susceptibility to excitotoxic insult, while differences in GluR1: GluR2 ratio among projection neurons are likely to yield differences in Ca2+ permeability, desensitization, and single channel current, which may contribute to differences among them in plasticity, synaptic integration, and excitotoxic vulnerability. The apparent association of the GluR1 subunit with synaptic plasticity, in particular, suggests striato-GPe neuron spines as a particular site of corticostriatal synaptic plasticity, presumably associated with motor learning.
PMCID: PMC1993922  PMID: 17446041
striatum; AMPA receptors; AMPA subunits; glutamate; excitotoxicity; immunohistochemistry
14.  Rapid glutamate receptor 2 trafficking during retinal degeneration 
Retinal degenerations, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), are characterized by photoreceptor loss and anomalous remodeling of the surviving retina that corrupts visual processing and poses a barrier to late-stage therapeutic interventions in particular. However, the molecular events associated with retinal remodeling remain largely unknown. Given our prior evidence of ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) reprogramming in retinal degenerations, we hypothesized that the edited glutamate receptor 2 (GluR2) subunit and its trafficking may be modulated in retinal degenerations.
Adult albino Balb/C mice were exposed to intense light for 24 h to induce light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD). We found that prior to the onset of photoreceptor loss, protein levels of GluR2 and related trafficking proteins, including glutamate receptor-interacting protein 1 (GRIP1) and postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95), were rapidly increased. LIRD triggered neuritogenesis in photoreceptor survival regions, where GluR2 and its trafficking proteins were expressed in the anomalous dendrites. Immunoprecipitation analysis showed interaction between KIF3A and GRIP1 as well as PSD-95, suggesting that KIF3A may mediate transport of GluR2 and its trafficking proteins to the novel dendrites. However, in areas of photoreceptor loss, GluR2 along with its trafficking proteins nearly vanished in retracted retinal neurites.
All together, LIRD rapidly triggers GluR2 plasticity, which is a potential mechanism behind functionally phenotypic revisions of retinal neurons and neuritogenesis during retinal degenerations.
PMCID: PMC3296582  PMID: 22325330
glutamate receptor 2; retinal degeneration; retinal remodeling; neuritogenesis
15.  Transmembrane and Ubiquitin-Like Domain-Containing Protein 1 (Tmub1/HOPS) Facilitates Surface Expression of GluR2-Containing AMPA Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2809.
Some ubiquitin-like (UBL) domain-containing proteins are known to play roles in receptor trafficking. Alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPARs) undergo constitutive cycling between the intracellular compartment and the cell surface in the central nervous system. However, the function of UBL domain-containing proteins in the recycling of the AMPARs to the synaptic surface has not yet been reported.
Here, we report that the Transmembrane and ubiquitin-like domain-containing 1 (Tmub1) protein, formerly known as the Hepatocyte Odd Protein Shuttling (HOPS) protein, which is abundantly expressed in the brain and which exists in a synaptosomal membrane fraction, facilitates the recycling of the AMPAR subunit GluR2 to the cell surface. Neurons transfected with Tmub1/HOPS-RNAi plasmids showed a significant reduction in the AMPAR current as compared to their control neurons. Consistently, the synaptic surface expression of GluR2, but not of GluR1, was significantly decreased in the neurons transfected with the Tmub1/HOPS-RNAi and increased in the neurons overexpressing EGFP-Tmub1/HOPS. The altered surface expression of GluR2 was speculated to be due to the altered surface-recycling of the internalized GluR2 in our recycling assay. Eventually, we found that GluR2 and glutamate receptor interacting protein (GRIP) were coimmunoprecipitated by the anti-Tmub1/HOPS antibody from the mouse brain.
Taken together, these observations show that the Tmub1/HOPS plays a role in regulating basal synaptic transmission; it contributes to maintain the synaptic surface number of the GluR2-containing AMPARs by facilitating the recycling of GluR2 to the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC2474703  PMID: 18665261
16.  Chronic administration of morphine is associated with a decrease in surface AMPA GluR1 receptor subunit in dopamine D1 receptor expressing neurons in the shell and non-D1 receptor expressing neurons in the core of the rat nucleus accumbens 
Experimental neurology  2008;210(2):750-761.
The nucleus accumbens (Acb) is an extensively studied neuroanatomical substrate of opiate reward and the neural plasticity associated with chronic opioid use. The cellular mechanisms mediating opioid-dependent plasticity are uncertain, however AMPA-type glutamate receptor trafficking in dopamine D1 dopamine receptor (D1R) expressing neurons may be a potential cellular pathway for these adaptations, although there is no evidence for this possibility. Immunogold electron microscopy was used to quantify the surface expression of the AMPA GluR1 subunit in dendritic profiles of neurons in the Acb in response to intermittent 14-day non-contingent injections of escalating doses of morphine, a model that parallels opioid self-administration. To determine if changes in GluR1 trafficking occurred in neurons potentially sensitive to dopamine-induced D1R activation, immunoperoxidase labeling of D1R was combined with immunogold labeling of GluR1. Immunogold quantification was performed in two distinct Acb subregions, the shell, an area involved in processing incentive salience related to rewarding stimuli, and the core, an area involved in reward-seeking behaviors. We provide the first report that chronic morphine administration is associated with a receptor-phenotypic decrease in surface trafficking of GluR1 in Acb subregions. When compared to saline injected animals, morphine produced a decrease in plasma membrane GluR1 labeling in medium- and large-size D1R expressing dendritic profiles in the Acb shell. In contrast, in the Acb core, surface GluR1 was decreased in small-size dendrites that did not express the dopamine receptor. These results indicate that chronic intermittent injection of escalating doses of morphine is accompanied by ultrastructural plasticity of GluR1 in neurons that are responsive to glutamate and dopamine-induced D1R activation in the Acb shell, and neurons capable of responding to glutamate but not D1R receptor stimulation in the Acb core. Thus, AMPA receptor trafficking associated with chronic opiate exposure in functionally distinct areas of the Acb may be distinguished by D1R receptor activation, suggesting the potential for differing neural substrates of reward and motor aspects of addictive processes involving glutamate and dopamine signaling.
PMCID: PMC2708174  PMID: 18294632
Addiction; Dopamine; Dopamine D1R receptor; Nucleus accumbens core; Nucleus Accumbens shell; Glutamate; Synaptic Plasticity
17.  mGluR and NMDAR activation internalize distinct populations of AMPARs 
Activation of metabotropic- (mGluRs) or NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs) are each linked to inducing long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic transmission in CA1 hippocampal neurons. These two forms of LTD are triggered by diverse signaling pathways yet both are expressed by the internalization of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs). An unanswered question remains as to whether the convergence of the mGluR and NMDAR signaling pathways on AMPAR endocytosis renders these two forms of plasticity functionally equivalent, with both pathways inducing endocytosis of the same population of synaptic AMPARs. We now report evidence that these pathways couple to the endocytosis of distinct populations of AMPARs defined by their mobility in the membrane surface NMDAR activation enhances removal of surface. AMPARs that rapidly cycle into and out of the membrane surface, while activation of mGluRs with DHPG results in the internalization of a non-mobile population of AMPARs. Glutamate Receptor Interacting Proteins 1 and 2 (GRIP1/2) play a key role in defining the non-cycling receptor population. GRIP1/2 knockdown with siRNA increases the proportion of rapidly cycling surface AMPARs and inhibits mGluR- but not NMDAR-mediated AMPAR internalization. Additionally, we find that mGluR activation dissociates surface AMPARs from GRIP1/2 while stimulation of NMDARs elicits the loss of membrane receptors not bound to GRIP1/2. We propose that these two receptor pathways can drive the endocytosis of distinct populations of AMPARs: NMDARs couple to the endocytosis of rapidly cycling surface AMPARs not directly associated with GRIP1/2 while mGluR activation induces the endocytosis of non-cycling GRIP-bound surface AMPARs.
PMCID: PMC3163744  PMID: 21807099
AMPAR; GRIP/ABP; endocytosis; LTD; cycling; plasticity
18.  Stable Synaptic Retention of Serine-880-Phosphorylated GluR2 in Hippocampal Neurons 
Phosphorylation of S880 within the GluR2 C-terminus has been reported to promote endocytosis of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) by preventing GluR2 interaction with the putative synaptic anchoring proteins GRIP and ABP. It is not yet established however, whether S880 phosphorylation induces removal of AMPARs from synaptic sites, and the trafficking of phosphorylated GluR2 subunits with surface and endocytosed GluR2 has not been directly compared within the same intact neurons. Here we show that phosphorylation of GluR2 subunits by PKC activated with phorbol esters is compartmentally restricted to receptors located at the cell surface. Endogenous AMPARs containing S880-phosphorylated GluR2 remained highly synaptic and colocalized with post-synaptic markers to the same extent as AMPARs which did not contain S880-phosphorylated GluR2. Moreover, following S880 phosphorylation, exogenous GluR2 homomers were found specifically at the cell surface and did not cotraffic with the internalized endosomal GluR2 population. We also show that GluR2 is endogenously phosphorylated by a constitutively active kinase pharmacologically related to PKC, and this phosphorylation is opposed by the protein phosphatase PP1. Our results demonstrate a population of hippocampal AMPARs which do not require interaction with GRIP/ABP for synaptic anchorage.
PMCID: PMC2653623  PMID: 18417360
GluR2 phosphorylation; AMPA receptor trafficking; mutagenesis; synaptic plasticity; Sindbis virus; primary neuronal cultures
19.  Abnormal N-linked glycosylation of cortical AMPA receptor subunits in schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia research  2013;146(0):177-183.
Numerous studies have demonstrated brain region- and subunit-specific abnormalities in the expression of subunits of the AMPA subtype of glutamate receptors in schizophrenia. In addition, abnormalities in the expression of proteins that regulate the forward trafficking of AMPA receptors through the cell have been reported. These findings suggest abnormal trafficking of AMPA receptors as a mechanism underlying dysregulated glutamate neurotransmission in schizophrenia. AMPA receptor subunits (GluR1-4) assemble to form AMPA receptor complexes in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These subunits undergo the posttranslational modification of N-linked glycosylation in the ER and the Golgi apparatus before the assembled receptors are transported to the plasma membrane. In this study, we measured expression of AMPA receptors and the extent of their N-glycosylation using Western blot analysis in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in subjects with schizophrenia (N=35) and a comparison group (N=31). N-glycosylation was assessed using molecular mass shift assays following digestion with endoglycosidase H (Endo H), which removes immature high mannose-containing sugars, and with peptide-N-glycosidase F (PNGase F), which removes all N-linked sugars. Of the four AMPA receptor subunits, only GluR4 was significantly increased in schizophrenia. GluR2 and GluR4 were both sensitive to Endo H and PNGase F treatment. Endo H-mediated deglycosylation of GluR2 resulted in a significantly smaller pool of GluR2 protein to shift in schizophrenia, reflecting less N-linked high mannose and/or hybrid sugars on the GluR2 protein in this illness. This was confirmed by immunoisolation of GluR2 and probing with Concanavalin A, a mannose specific lectin; in subjects with schizophrenia GluR2 was significantly less reactive to Concanavalin A. Altered N-linked glycosylation of the GluR2 subunit in schizophrenia suggests abnormal trafficking of AMPA receptors from the ER to the synaptic membrane in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3655690  PMID: 23462048
postmortem brain; psychosis; glutamate receptors; prefrontal cortex
20.  Glutamate receptor expression and chronic glutamate toxicity in rat motor cortex 
Neurobiology of disease  2007;26(1):78-85.
In addition to the loss of spinal motor neurons, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also associated with degeneration of corticospinal layer V pyramidal neurons and decreased glutamate transport in the cortex. We characterized the glutamate receptors on corticospinal neurons in acutely isolated rat motor cortex slices and found that the synaptic inputs to the corticospinal layer V neurons had a lesser proportional contribution from NMDA receptors relative to AMPA receptors than did layer II/III pyramidal neurons. The synaptic IAMPA was also more inwardly rectified, indicating a greater Ca2+-permeable component, in layer V. In a cortical organotypic slice culture model, blockade of glutamate transporters elevated glutamate in the media and led to pyramidal neuron loss in both layers. The loss of layer V pyramidal neurons was attenuated by antagonists of AMPA/kainate or Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors, suggesting their therapeutic potential in the protection of the motor cortex in ALS.
PMCID: PMC1905496  PMID: 17240155
21.  Evidence for Low GluR2 AMPA Receptor Subunit Expression at Synapses in the Rat Basolateral Amygdala 
Journal of neurochemistry  2005;94(6):1728-1738.
Fast excitatory synaptic responses in basolateral amygdala (BLA) neurons are mainly mediated by ionotropic glutamate receptors of the AMPA subtype. AMPA receptors containing an edited GluR2 subunit are calcium impermeable, whereas those that lack this subunit are calcium permeable and also inwardly rectifying. Here we sought to determine the extent to which synapses in the rat BLA have AMPA receptors with GluR2 subunits. We assessed GluR2 protein expression in the BLA by immunocytochemistry with a GluR2 subunit-specific antiserum at the light and electron microscopic level; for comparison a parallel examination was carried out in the hippocampus. We also recorded from amygdala brain slices to examine the voltage-dependent properties of AMPA receptor-mediated evoked synaptic currents in BLA principal neurons. At the light microscopic level, GluR2 immunoreactivity was localized to the perikarya and proximal dendrites of BLA neurons; dense labeling was also present over the pyramidal cell layer of hippocampal subfields CA1 and CA3. In electron micrographs from the BLA, most of the synapses were asymmetrical with pronounced postsynaptic densities (PSD). They contained clear, spherical vesicles apposed to the PSD and were predominantly onto spines (86%), indicating that they are mainly with BLA principal neurons. Only 11% of morphological synapses in the BLA were onto postsynaptic elements that showed GluR2 immunoreactivity in contrast to hippocampal subfields CA1 and CA3 in which 76% and 71% of postsynaptic elements were labeled (p < 0.001). Synaptic staining in the BLA and hippocampus, when it occurred, was exclusively postsynaptic, and particularly heavy over the PSD. In whole-cell voltage clamp recordings, 72% of BLA principal neurons exhibited AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic currents evoked by external capsule stimulation that were inwardly rectifying. Although BLA principal neurons express perikaryal and proximal dendritic GluR2 immunoreactivity, few synapses onto these neurons express GluR2 and a preponderance of principal neurons have inwardly rectifying AMPA-mediated synaptic currents, suggesting that targeting of GluR2 to synapses is restricted. Many BLA synaptic AMPA receptors are likely to be calcium permeable and could play roles in synaptic plasticity, epileptogenesis and excitoxicity.
PMCID: PMC1352164  PMID: 16045445
AMPA receptor; GluR2 subunit; basolateral amygdala; hippocampus; electron microscopy; patch clamp recording; BLA, basolateral amygdala
22.  Genetic Deletion of NP1 Prevents Hypoxic‐Ischemic Neuronal Death Via Reducing AMPA Receptor Synaptic Localization in Hippocampal Neurons 
Trafficking of α‐amino‐3‐hydroxy‐5‐methyl‐4‐isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPARs) to excitatory synapses is critical to their synaptic functions. Previously, we have shown induction of neuronal pentraxin 1 (NP1) and its colocalization with AMPAR subunit GluR1 in hypoxic‐ischemic (HI) brain injury. However, the role of NP1 in mediating GluR1 surface expression, trafficking, and clustering at synapses in HI neuronal death is unclear.
Methods and Results
Primary hippocampal neurons, isolated from wild‐type (WT) and NP1‐knockout (C57BL/6 background) mice at DIV 12 to 14 were exposed to 2 to 8 hours of oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD)—in vitro conditions that mimic human stroke. OGD exposure resulted in time‐dependent induction of NP1 (∼4‐fold), enhanced redistribution of AMAP GluR1 receptors at excitatory synapses, and increased neuronal death. We observed a significant increase in surface and synaptic GluR1 clusters that colocalized with PSD‐95 on dendrites with a simultaneous decrease in internalized GluR1. Surface cross‐linking with BS3 showed enhanced membrane insertions of GluR1, and increased phosphorylation at Ser‐845 further supported enhanced surface availability of GluR1 after OGD. NP1 protein colocalized with GluR1 and PSD‐95, and OGD significantly increased their synaptic coclustering. Most strikingly, the genetic deletion of NP1 resulted in decreases in surface GluR1 cluster density, synaptic localization, phospho‐GluR1 (Ser‐845) levels, and neuronal death after OGD compared with WT neurons. AMPA (50 μmol/L) induced NP1 and significant cell death in WT but not in NP1−/− neurons.
Our results indicate that NP1 plays a key role in synaptic clustering of GluR1, suggesting that targeting NP1 might be a practical approach to preventing ischemic brain damage.
PMCID: PMC3603251  PMID: 23525449
AMPA receptors; neuronal pentraxin 1; oxygen glucose deprivation; receptor trafficking; surface expression; synaptic clustering
23.  Loss of ALS2/Alsin Exacerbates Motor Dysfunction in a SOD1H46R-Expressing Mouse ALS Model by Disturbing Endolysosomal Trafficking 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9805.
ALS2/alsin is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPase Rab5 and involved in macropinocytosis-associated endosome fusion and trafficking, and neurite outgrowth. ALS2 deficiency accounts for a number of juvenile recessive motor neuron diseases (MNDs). Recently, it has been shown that ALS2 plays a role in neuroprotection against MND-associated pathological insults, such as toxicity induced by mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). However, molecular mechanisms underlying the relationship between ALS2-associated cellular function and its neuroprotective role remain unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To address this issue, we investigated the molecular and pathological basis for the phenotypic modification of mutant SOD1-expressing mice by ALS2 loss. Genetic ablation of Als2 in SOD1H46R, but not SOD1G93A, transgenic mice aggravated the mutant SOD1-associated disease symptoms such as body weight loss and motor dysfunction, leading to the earlier death. Light and electron microscopic examinations revealed the presence of degenerating and/or swollen spinal axons accumulating granular aggregates and autophagosome-like vesicles in early- and even pre-symptomatic SOD1H46R mice. Further, enhanced accumulation of insoluble high molecular weight SOD1, poly-ubiquitinated proteins, and macroautophagy-associated proteins such as polyubiquitin-binding protein p62/SQSTM1 and a lipidated form of light chain 3 (LC3-II), emerged in ALS2-deficient SOD1H46R mice. Intriguingly, ALS2 was colocalized with LC3 and p62, and partly with SOD1 on autophagosome/endosome hybrid compartments, and loss of ALS2 significantly lowered the lysosome-dependent clearance of LC3 and p62 in cultured cells.
Based on these observations, although molecular basis for the distinctive susceptibilities to ALS2 loss in different mutant SOD1-expressing ALS models is still elusive, disturbance of the endolysosomal system by ALS2 loss may exacerbate the SOD1H46R-mediated neurotoxicity by accelerating the accumulation of immature vesicles and misfolded proteins in the spinal cord. We propose that ALS2 is implicated in endolysosomal trafficking through the fusion between endosomes and autophagosomes, thereby regulating endolysosomal protein degradation in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2842444  PMID: 20339559
24.  Gene transfer of constitutively active protein kinase C into striatal neurons accelerates onset of levodopa-induced motor response alterations in parkinsonian rats 
Brain research  2003;971(1):18-30.
Alterations in motor response that complicate levodopa treatment of Parkinson’s disease appear to involve sensitization of striatal ionotropic glutamate receptors. Since protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated phosphorylation regulates glutamatergic receptors of the α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) subtype and has been linked to several forms of behavioral plasticity, activation of PKC signaling in striatal spiny neurons may also contribute to the motor plasticity changes associated with chronic levodopa therapy. To evaluate this possibility, we sought to augment PKC signaling by using Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 vectors (pHSVpkcΔ) to directly transfer the catalytic domain of the PKCβII gene into striatal neurons of parkinsonian rats. Microinjection of pHSVpkcΔ vectors lead to the persistent expression of PkcΔ (35% loss over 21 days) in medium spiny neurons together with an increase in serine 831 phosphorylation on AMPA receptor GluR1 subunits and hastened the appearance of the shortened response duration produced by chronic levodopa treatment (P<0.05). In pHSVpkcΔ-infected animals, intrastriatal injection of the PKC inhibitor NPC-15437 (1.0 μg) attenuated both the increased GluR1 phosphorylation (P<0.01) and the accelerated onset of the levodopa-induced response modifications (P<0.01). However, in rats that received levodopa treatment for 21 days without the gene transfer, intrastriatal NPC-15437 had no effect on the response shortening or on GluR1 S831 phosphorylation. The results suggest that an increase in PKC-mediated signaling, including, in part, phosphorylation of AMPA receptors, on striatal spiny neurons may be sufficient to promote the initial appearance, but not necessary the ultimate expression, of the levodopa-induced motor response changes occurring in a rodent model of the human motor complication syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2581872  PMID: 12691833
Chronic levodopa administration; 6-Hydroxydopamine lesion; AMPA receptor; Herpes Simplex Vector type 1 vector; Phosphorylation; Basal ganglia
25.  Acute BDNF Treatment Upregulates GluR1-SAP97 and GluR2-GRIP1 Interactions: Implications for Sustained AMPA Receptor Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57124.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays several prominent roles in synaptic plasticity and in learning and memory formation. Reduced BDNF levels and altered BDNF signaling have been reported in several brain diseases and behavioral disorders, which also exhibit reduced levels of AMPAr subunits. BDNF treatment acutely regulates AMPA receptor expression and function, including synaptic AMPAr subunit trafficking, and implicates several well defined signaling molecules that are required to elicit long term potentiation and depression (LTP and LTD, respectively). Long term encoding of synaptic events, as in long term memory formation, requires AMPAr stabilization and maintenance. However, factors regulating AMPAr stabilization in neuronal cell membranes and synaptic sites are not well characterized. In this study, we examine the effects of acute BDNF treatment on levels of AMPAr-associated scaffolding proteins and on AMPAr subunit-scaffolding protein interactions. We also examine the effects of BDNF-dependent enhanced interactions between AMPAr subunits with their specific scaffolding proteins on the accumulation of both types of proteins. Our results show that acute BDNF treatment upregulates the interactions between AMPAr subunits (GluR1 and GluR2) with their scaffold proteins SAP97 and GRIP1, respectively, leading to prolonged increased accumulation of both categories of proteins, albeit with distinct mechanisms for GluR1 and GluR2. Our findings reveal a new role for BDNF in the long term maintenance of AMPA receptor subunits and associated scaffolding proteins at synapses and further support the role of BDNF as a key regulator of synaptic consolidation. These results have potential implications for recent findings implicating BDNF and AMPAr subunits in various brain diseases and behavioral disorders.
PMCID: PMC3584105  PMID: 23460828

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