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1.  The mTOR signaling pathway in the prefrontal cortex is compromised in major depressive disorder 
Recent studies demonstrate that rapid antidepressant response to ketamine is mediated by activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, leading to increased synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of rats. Our postmortem studies indicate robust deficits in prominent postsynaptic proteins including N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits (NR2A, NR2B), metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) and postsynaptic density protein 95 kDa (PSD-95) in the PFC in major depressive disorder (MDD). We hypothesize that deficits in the mTOR-dependent translation initiation pathway contribute to the molecular pathology seen in the PFC of MDD subjects, and that a rapid reversal of these abnormalities may underlie antidepressant activity. The majority of known translational regulation occurs at the level of initiation. mTOR regulates translation initiation via its downstream components: p70-kDa ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K), and eukaryotic initiation factors 4E and 4B (eIF4E, eIF4B). In this study, we examined the expression of mTOR and its core downstream signaling targets: p70S6K, eIF4E, eIF4B in the PFC of 12 depressed subjects and 12 psychiatrically healthy controls using Western blot. Levels of eIF4E phosphorylated at serine 209 (p-eIF4E-Ser209) and eIF4B phosphorylated at serine 504 (p-eIF4B-Ser504) were also examined. Adjacent cortical tissue samples from both cohorts of subjects were used in our previous postmortem analyses. There was a significant reduction in mTOR, p70S6K, eIF4B and p-eIF4B protein expression in MDD subjects relative to controls. No group differences were observed in eIF4E, p-eIF4E or actin levels. Our findings show deficits in mTOR-dependent translation initiation in MDD particularly via the p70S6K/eIF4B pathway, and indicate a potential association between marked deficits in synaptic proteins and dysregulation of mTOR signaling in MDD.
PMCID: PMC3154612  PMID: 21635931
prefrontal cortex; translation initiation pathway; major depressive disorder; postmortem
2.  Elevated levels of NR2A and PSD-95 in the lateral amygdala in depression 
Compelling evidence suggests that major depression is associated with dysfunction of the brain glutamatergic transmission, and that the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor plays a role in antidepressant activity. Recent postmortem studies demonstrate that depression is associated with altered concentrations of proteins associated with NMDA receptor signaling in the brain. The present study investigated glutamate signaling proteins in the amygdala from depressed subjects, given strong evidence for amygdala pathology in depression. Lateral amygdala samples were obtained from 13-14 pairs of age- sex-, and postmortem-interval matched depressed and psychiatrically healthy control subjects. Concentrations of NR1 and NR2A subunits of the NMDA receptor, as well as NMDA receptor-associated proteins such as postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) were measured by Western immunoblotting. Additionally, levels of enzymes involved in glutamate metabolism, including glutamine synthetase and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD-67), were measured in the same amygdala samples. NR2A protein levels were markedly and significantly elevated (+115%, p=0.03) in depressed subjects as compared to controls. Interestingly, PSD-95 levels were also highly elevated (+128%, p=0.01) in the same depressed subjects relative to controls. Amounts of NR1, nNOS, glutamine synthetase, and GAD-67 were unchanged. Increased levels of NR2A and PSD-95 suggest that glutamate signaling at the NMDA receptor in the amygdala is disrupted in depression.
PMCID: PMC2645479  PMID: 18570704
NMDA receptor; postsynaptic density protein-95; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; glutamate metabolizing enzymes, amygdala
3.  Neuronal Plasticity in the Cingulate Cortex of Rats following Esophageal Acid Exposure in Early Life 
Gastroenterology  2011;141(2):544-552.
Background & Aims
The cingulate cortex (CC) has been reported to be involved in processing pain of esophageal origin. However, little is known about molecular changes and cortical activation that arise from early-life, esophageal acid reflux. Excitatory neurotransmission via activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and its interaction with post-synaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) at the synapse appears to mediate neuronal development and plasticity. We investigated the effect of early-life esophageal acid exposure on NMDA receptor subunits and PSD-95 expression in the developing CC.
We assessed NMDA receptor subunits and PSD-95 protein expression in rostral CC (rCC) tissues of rats exposed to esophageal acid or saline (control), either during post-natal days 7–14 (P7–P14) and/or acutely, at adult stage (P60), using immunoblot and immunoprecipitation analyses.
Compared with controls, acid exposure from P7 to P14 significantly increased expression of NR1, NR2A, and PSD-95, measured 6 weeks after exposure. However, acute exposure at P60 caused a transient increase in expression of NMDA receptor subunits. These molecular changes were more robust in animals exposed to acid neonatally and rechallenged, acutely, at P60. Esophageal acid exposure induced calcium calmodulin kinase II-mediated phosphorylation of the subunit NR2B at Ser1303.
Esophageal acid exposure during early stages of life has long-term effects, because of phosphorylation of the NMDA receptor and overexpression in the rCC. This molecular alteration in the rCC might mediate sensitization of patients with acid-induced esophageal disorders.
PMCID: PMC3152593  PMID: 21616075
brain; developmental neuroscience; pain processing; CamKII
4.  Glutamate signaling proteins and tyrosine hydroxylase in the locus coeruleus of alcoholics 
Journal of psychiatric research  2007;42(5):348-355.
It has been postulated that alcoholism is associated with abnormalities in glutamatergic neurotransmission. This study examined the density of glutamate NMDA receptor subunits and its associated proteins in the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) in deceased alcoholic subjects. Our previous research indicated that the NMDA receptor in the human LC is composed of obligatory NR1 and regulatory NR2C subunits. At synapses, NMDA receptors are stabilized through interactions with postsynaptic density protein (PSD-95). PSD-95 provides structural and functional coupling of the NMDA receptor with neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), an intracellular mediator of NMDA receptor activation. LC tissue was obtained from 10 alcohol-dependent subjects and 8 psychiatrically healthy controls. Concentrations of NR1 and NR2C subunits, as well as PSD-95 and nNOS, were measured using Western blotting. In addition we have examined tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of norepinephrine. The amount of NR1 was lower in the rostral (−30%) and middle (−41%)portions of the LC of alcoholics as compared to control subjects. No differences in the amounts of NR2C, PSD-95, nNOS and TH were detected comparing alcoholic to control subjects. Lower levels of NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor in the LC implicates altered glutamate-norepinephrine interactions in alcoholism.
PMCID: PMC2292639  PMID: 17481661
glutamate; NMDA receptor; postsynaptic density protein 95; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; tyrosine hydroxylase; locus coeruleus
5.  Decreased NR1, NR2A, and SAP102 transcript expression in the hippocampus in bipolar disorder 
Brain research  2006;1127(1):108-118.
Schizophrenia is associated with dysfunction of glutamatergic neurotransmission, and several studies have suggested glutamatergic abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Recent data suggest involvement of the NMDA receptor-signaling complex, which includes NMDA receptor subunits as well as associated intracellular interacting proteins critical for NMDA receptor assembly, trafficking, and activation; the most well characterized being PSD-93, PDS-95, SAP102, and NF-L. Previously, studies from our laboratories have described changes in glutamate receptor subunit transcript and binding site expression in schizophrenia, and changes in NMDA receptor binding site expression in bipolar disorder in postmortem brain tissue. In the present work, we focus on the expression of these molecules in hippocampus in schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder I.
We performed in situ hybridization to assess hippocampal expression of the transcripts encoding NMDA receptor subunits NR1, 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D, and the transcripts for the NMDA receptor associated PSD proteins PSD-95, PSD-93, NF-L and SAP102 in subjects with schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder I, and a comparison group. We also measured [3H]CGP39653 and [3H]MK-801 binding site expression in the hippocampus in schizophrenia.
There was a significant decrease in the expression of transcripts for NR1 and NR2A subunits and SAP102 in bipolar disorder. We did not detect any changes in these transcripts or in binding site expression in the hippocampus in schizophrenia.
We propose that the NMDA receptor-signaling complex, including the intracellular machinery that is coupled to the NMDA receptor subunits, is abnormal in the hippocampus in bipolar disorder. These data suggest bipolar disorder might be associated with abnormalities of glutamate-linked intracellular signaling and trafficking processes.
PMCID: PMC2900828  PMID: 17113057
[3H]CGP39653; [3H]MK-801; binding; in situ hybridization; postmortem; human; glutamate; psychosis; NMDA; PSD; post synaptic density; PDZ domain
6.  Ubiquitination Regulates PSD-95 Degradation and AMPA Receptor Surface Expression 
Neuron  2003;40(3):595-607.
PSD-95 is a major scaffolding protein of the postsynaptic density, tethering NMDA- and AMPA-type glutamate receptors to signaling proteins and the neuronal cytoskeleton. Here we show that PSD-95 is regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. PSD-95 interacts with and is ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase Mdm2. In response to NMDA receptor activation, PSD-95 is ubiquitinated and rapidly removed from synaptic sites by proteasome-dependent degradation. Mutations that block PSD-95 ubiquitination prevent NMDA-induced AMPA receptor endocytosis. Likewise, proteasome inhibitors prevent NMDA-induced AMPA receptor internalization and synaptically induced long-term depression. This is consistent with the notion that PSD-95 levels are an important determinant of AMPA receptor number at the synapse. These data suggest that ubiquitination of PSD-95 through an Mdm2-mediated pathway is critical in regulating AMPA receptor surface expression during synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3963808  PMID: 14642282
7.  NMDA Receptor Hypofunction Produces Opposite Effects on Prefrontal Cortex Interneurons and Pyramidal Neurons 
NMDA receptors mediate excitatory postsynaptic potentials throughout the brain but, paradoxically, NMDA receptor antagonists produce cortical excitation in humans and behaving rodents. To elucidate a mechanism for these diverging effects, we examined the effect of use-dependent inhibition of NMDA receptors on the spontaneous activity of putative GABA interneurons and pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex of awake rats. We find that inhibition of NMDA receptors predominately decreases the activity of putative GABA interneurons but, at a delayed rate, increases the firing rate of the majority of pyramidal neurons. Thus, NMDA receptors preferentially drive the activity of cortical inhibitory interneurons suggesting that NMDA receptor inhibition causes cortical excitation by disinhibition of pyramidal neurons. These findings support the hypothesis that NMDA receptor hypofunction, which has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, diminishes the inhibitory control of PFC output neurons. Reducing this effect may be critical for treatment of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2954603  PMID: 17959792
schizophrenia; glutamate; GABA; ensemble unit recording; antipsychotic drugs; metabotropic glutamate receptors
8.  Decreased expression of NMDA receptor-associated proteins in frontal cortex of elderly patients with schizophrenia 
Neuroreport  2009;20(11):1019-1022.
Converging evidence suggests too few activation-ready N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor complexes in the postsynaptic density in schizophrenia. Postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD95), Synaptic GTPase-activating protein (SynGAP), and Multiple PDZ domain protein (MUPP1) are integral components of the NMDA receptor signaling complex, and help facilitate signaling, trafficking, and stabilization. We hypothesized that deficits involving these molecules may contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. To test our hypothesis, we measured protein expression of PSD95, SynGAP, and MUPP1 in the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We found decreased PSD95 expression in the anterior cingulate cortex. Antipsychotic medication analyses showed decreased SynGAP expression in the anterior cingulate cortex in patients off medication when analyzed against our comparison group. These data suggest that NMDA receptor complex formation, localization, and downstream signaling may be abnormal in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3731946  PMID: 19483657
MUPP1; N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor; PSD95; schizophrenia; SynGAP
9.  PSD-95-like membrane associated guanylate kinases (PSD-MAGUKs) and Synaptic Plasticity 
Current opinion in neurobiology  2011;21(2):306-312.
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.
PMCID: PMC3138136  PMID: 21450454
10.  Electrophysiological Characterization of AMPA and NMDA Receptors in Rat Dorsal Striatum 
The striatum receives glutamatergic afferents from the cortex and thalamus, and these synaptic transmissions are mediated by α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. The purpose of this study was to characterize glutamate receptors by analyzing NMDA/AMPA ratio and rectification of AMPA and NMDA excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) using a whole-cell voltage-clamp method in the dorsal striatum. Receptor antagonists were used to isolate receptor or subunit specific EPSC, such as (DL)-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), an NMDA receptor antagonist, ifenprodil, an NR2B antagonist, CNQX, an AMPA receptor antagonist and IEM-1460, a GluR2-lacking AMPA receptor blocker. AMPA and NMDA EPSCs were recorded at -70 and +40 mV, respectively. Rectification index was calculated by current ratio of EPSCs between +50 and -50 mV. NMDA/AMPA ratio was 0.20±0.05, AMPA receptor ratio of GluR2-lacking/GluR2-containing subunit was 0.26±0.05 and NMDA receptor ratio of NR2B/NR2A subunit was 0.32±0.03. The rectification index (control 2.39±0.27) was decreased in the presence of both APV and combination of APV and IEM-1460 (1.02±0.11 and 0.93±0.09, respectively). These results suggest that the major components of the striatal glutamate receptors are GluR2-containing AMPA receptors and NR2A-containing NMDA receptors. Our results may provide useful information for corticostriatal synaptic transmission and plasticity studies.
PMCID: PMC2766737  PMID: 19885039
Striatum; AMPA; Glutamate receptor; NMDA; Patch clamp
11.  Size and Receptor Density of Glutamatergic Synapses: A Viewpoint from Left–Right Asymmetry of CA3–CA1 Connections 
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.
PMCID: PMC2706655  PMID: 19587849
spines; glutamate; AMPAR; NMDAR; mGluR5; PSD
12.  Glutamate receptor composition of the post-synaptic density is altered in genetic mouse models of NMDA receptor hypo- and hyperfunction 
Brain research  2011;1392:1-7.
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate receptor (AMPAR) are ionotropic glutamate receptors responsible for excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. These excitatory synapses are found on dendritic spines, with the abundance of receptors concentrated at the postsynaptic density (PSD). We utilized two genetic mouse models, the serine racemase knockout (SR−/−) and the glycine transporter subtype 1 heterozygote mutant (GlyT1+/−), to determine how constitutive NMDAR hypo- and hyperfunction, respectively, affect the glutamate receptor composition of the PSD in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Using cellular fractionation, we found that SR−/− mice had elevated protein levels of NR1 and NR2A NMDAR subunits specifically in the PSD-enriched fraction from the hippocampus, but not from the PFC. There were no changes in the amounts of AMPAR subunits (GluR1, GluR2), or PSD protein of 95kDa (PSD95) in either brain region. GlyT1+/− mice also had elevated protein expression of NR1 and NR2A subunits in the PSD, as well as an increase in total protein. Moreover, GlyT1+/− mice had elevated amounts of GluR1 and GluR2 in the PSD, and higher total amounts of GluR1. Similar to SR−/− mice, there was no protein changes observed in the PFC. These findings illustrate the complexity of synaptic adaptation to altered NMDAR function.
PMCID: PMC3225000  PMID: 21443867
serine racemase; glycine transporter; postsynaptic density; NMDA receptor; AMPA receptor; schizophrenia
13.  Genetic Deletion of NR3A Accelerates Glutamatergic Synapse Maturation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42327.
Glutamatergic synapse maturation is critically dependent upon activation of NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs); however, the contributions of NR3A subunit-containing NMDARs to this process have only begun to be considered. Here we characterized the expression of NR3A in the developing mouse forebrain and examined the consequences of NR3A deletion on excitatory synapse maturation. We found that NR3A is expressed in many subcellular compartments, and during early development, NR3A subunits are particularly concentrated in the postsynaptic density (PSD). NR3A levels dramatically decline with age and are no longer enriched at PSDs in juveniles and adults. Genetic deletion of NR3A accelerates glutamatergic synaptic transmission, as measured by AMPAR-mediated postsynaptic currents recorded in hippocampal CA1. Consistent with the functional observations, we observed that the deletion of NR3A accelerated the expression of the glutamate receptor subunits NR1, NR2A, and GluR1 in the PSD in postnatal day (P) 8 mice. These data support the idea that glutamate receptors concentrate at synapses earlier in NR3A-knockout (NR3A-KO) mice. The precocious maturation of both AMPAR function and glutamate receptor expression are transient in NR3A-KO mice, as AMPAR currents and glutamate receptor protein levels are similar in NR3A-KO and wildtype mice by P16, an age when endogenous NR3A levels are normally declining. Taken together, our data support a model whereby NR3A negatively regulates the developmental stabilization of glutamate receptors involved in excitatory neurotransmission, synaptogenesis, and spine growth.
PMCID: PMC3411625  PMID: 22870318
Brain research  2008;1214:23-34.
Abnormalities in glutamate neurotransmission are thought to be among the major contributing factors to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia has been regarded mostly as a disorder of higher cortical function, the cortex and thalamus work as a functional unit. Existing data regarding alterations of glutamate receptor subunit expression in the thalamus in schizophrenia remain equivocal. This postmortem study examined mRNA expression of ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) subunits and PSD95 in 5 precisely defined and dissected thalamic subdivisions (medial and lateral sectors of the mediodorsal nucleus; and the ventrolateral posterior, ventral posterior, and centromedian nuclei) of persons with schizophrenia and matched controls using quantitative PCR with normalization to multiple endogenous controls. Among 15 genes examined (NR1 and NR2A-D subunits of NMDA receptor; GluR1-4 subunits of AMPA receptor; GluR5-7 and KA1-2 subunits of kainate receptor; PSD95), all but two (GluR4 and KA1) were expressed at quantifiable levels. Differences in iGluR gene expression were seen between different nuclei but not between diagnostic groups. The relative abundance of transcripts was: NR1≫NR2A>NR2B>NR2D>NR2C for NMDA, GluR2>GluR1>GluR3 for AMPA, and KA2>GluR5>GluR7>GluR6 for kainate receptors. The expression of PSD95 correlated with the expression of NR1, NR2A, NR2B, NR2D and GluR6 in all nuclei. These results provide detailed and quantitative information on iGluR subunit expression in multiple nuclei of the human thalamus but suggest that alterations in their expression are not a prominent feature of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2678296  PMID: 18462708
Quantitative real-time PCR; Gene Expression; Laser Capture Microdissection; Thalamus; Schizophrenia; Glutamate Receptors
15.  Dynamin-dependent NMDAR endocytosis during LTD and its dependence on synaptic state 
BMC Neuroscience  2005;6:48.
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.
PMCID: PMC1187896  PMID: 16042781
Neuroscience  2008;153(3):700-708.
Src family protein kinases (SFKs)-mediated tyrosine-phosphorylation regulates N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor synaptic function. Some members of the membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) family of proteins bind to both SFKs and NMDA receptors, but it is unclear whether the MAGUK family of proteins is required for SFKs-mediated tyrosine-phosphorylation of the NMDA receptors. Here, we showed by co-immunoprecipitation that PSD-93, a member of the MAGUK family of proteins, interacts with the NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B as well as with Fyn, a member of the SFKs, in mouse cerebral cortex. Using a biochemical fractionation approach to isolate subcellular compartments revealed that the expression of Fyn, but not of other members of the SFKs (Lyn, Src, and Yes), was significantly decreased in synaptosomal membrane fractions derived from the cerebral cortex of PSD-93 knockout mice. Interestingly, we found that PSD-93 disruption causes reduction of tyrosine-phosphorylated NR2A and NR2B in the same fraction. Moreover, PSD-93 deletion markedly blocked the SFKs-mediated increase in tyrosine-phosphorylated NR2A and NR2B through the protein kinase C pathway after induction with 4β-PMA in cultured cortical neurons. Our findings indicate that PSD-93 appears to mediate tyrosine-phosphorylation of the NMDA receptors and synaptic localization of Fyn.
PMCID: PMC2696054  PMID: 18423999
Src family tyrosine kinases; Fyn; MAGUK; PSD-95; NR2A; NR2B
17.  PSD-95 is required to sustain the molecular organization of the postsynaptic density 
PSD-95, a membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK), is the major scaffolding protein in the excitatory postsynaptic density (PSD) and a potent regulator of synaptic strength. Here we show that PSD-95 is in an extended configuration and positioned into regular arrays of vertical filaments that contact both glutamate receptors and orthogonal horizontal elements layered deep inside the PSD in rat hippocampal spine synapses. RNAi knockdown of PSD-95 leads to loss of entire patches of PSD material, and EM tomography shows that the patchy loss correlates with loss of PSD-95-containing vertical filaments, horizontal elements associated with the vertical filaments, and putative AMPA, but not NMDA receptor type structures. These observations show that the orthogonal molecular scaffold constructed from PSD-95-containing vertical filaments and their associated horizontal elements is essential for sustaining the three dimensional molecular organization of the PSD. Our findings provide a structural basis for understanding the functional role of PSD-95 at the PSD.
PMCID: PMC3099547  PMID: 21525273
PSD-95; molecular conformation; postsynaptic density; hippocampal spines; RNAi; EM tomography; Immuno-EM
18.  “The CUB domain protein Neto1 is an auxiliary protein of native synaptic kainate receptors” 
Ionotropic glutamate receptors of AMPA, NMDA and kainate receptor (KAR) subtypes mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the vertebrate CNS. Auxiliary proteins have been identified for AMPA and NMDA receptor complexes, but little is known about KAR complex proteins. We previously identified the CUB-domain protein, Neto1, as an NMDA receptor-associated polypeptide. Here, we show that Neto1 is also an auxiliary subunit for endogenous synaptic KARs. We found that Neto1 and KARs co-immunoprecipitated from brain lysates, from post-synaptic densities (PSDs) and, in a manner dependent on Neto1 CUB domains, when co-expressed in heterologous cells. In Neto1-null mice, there was an ~50% reduction in the abundance of GluK2-KARs in hippocampal PSDs. Neto1 strongly localized to CA3 stratum lucidum and loss of Neto1 resulted in a selective deficit in KAR-mediated neurotransmission at mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal cell synapses (MF-CA3): KAR-mediated EPSCs in Neto1-null mice were reduced in amplitude and decayed more rapidly than did those in wild-type mice. In contrast, the loss of Neto2, which also localizes to stratum lucidum and interacts with KARs, had no effect on KAR synaptic abundance or MF-CA3 transmission. Indeed MF-CA3 KAR deficits in Neto1/2 double null mutant mice were indistinguishable from Neto1 single null mice. Thus, our findings establish Neto1 as an auxiliary protein required for synaptic function of KARs. The ability of Neto1 to regulate both NMDARs and KARs reveals a unique dual role in controlling synaptic transmission by serving as an auxiliary protein for these two classes of ionotropic glutamate receptors in a synapse specific fashion.
PMCID: PMC3148853  PMID: 21734292
19.  NMDA Receptor Blockade Alters Stress-Induced Dendritic Remodeling in Medial Prefrontal Cortex 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2011;21(10):2366-2373.
The development and relapse of many psychopathologies can be linked to both stress and prefrontal cortex dysfunction. Glucocorticoid stress hormones target medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and either chronic stress or chronic administration of glucocorticoids produces dendritic remodeling in prefrontal pyramidal neurons. Exposure to stress also causes an increase in the release of the excitatory amino acid glutamate, which binds to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are plentiful in mPFC. NMDA receptor activation is crucial for producing hippocampal dendritic remodeling due to stress and for dendritic reorganization in frontal cortex after cholinergic deafferentation. Thus, NMDA receptors could mediate stress-induced dendritic retraction in mPFC. To test this hypothesis, dendritic morphology of pyramidal cells in mPFC was assessed after blocking NMDA receptors with the competitive NMDA antagonist ±3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4yl)propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP) during restraint stress. Administration of CPP prevented stress-induced dendritic atrophy. Instead, CPP-injected stressed rats showed hypertrophy of apical dendrites compared with controls. These results suggest that NMDA activation is crucial for stress-induced dendritic atrophy in mPFC. Furthermore, NMDA receptor blockade uncovers a new pattern of stress-induced dendritic changes, suggesting that other neurohormonal changes in concert with NMDA receptor activation underlie the net dendritic retraction seen after chronic stress.
PMCID: PMC3697127  PMID: 21383235
dendritic plasticity; Golgi histology; morphometry; prelimbic cortex; restraint stress
20.  Acute Inactivation of PSD-95 Destabilizes AMPA Receptors at Hippocampal Synapses 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53965.
Postsynatptic density protein (PSD-95) is a 95 kDa scaffolding protein that assembles signaling complexes at synapses. Over-expression of PSD-95 in primary hippocampal neurons selectively increases synaptic localization of AMPA receptors; however, mice lacking PSD-95 display grossly normal glutamatergic transmission in hippocampus. To further study the scaffolding role of PSD-95 at excitatory synapses, we generated a recombinant PSD-95-4c containing a tetracysteine motif, which specifically binds a fluorescein derivative and allows for acute and permanent inactivation of PSD-95. Interestingly, acute inactivation of PSD-95 in rat hippocampal cultures rapidly reduced surface AMPA receptor immunostaining, but did not affected NMDA or transferrin receptor localization. Acute photoinactivation of PSD-95 in dissociated neurons causes ∼80% decrease in GluR2 surface staining observed by live-cell microscopy within 15 minutes of PSD-95-4c ablation. These results confirm that PSD-95 stabilizes AMPA receptors at postsynaptic sites and provides insight into the dynamic interplay between PSD-95 and AMPA receptors in live neurons.
PMCID: PMC3546964  PMID: 23342049
21.  Sustained calcium signalling and caspase-3 activation involve NMDA receptors in thymocytes in contact with dendritic cells 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2010;18(1):99-108.
L-glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, also has a role in non-neuronal tissues and modulates immune responses. Whether NMDA receptor (NMDAR) signalling is involved in T-cell development is unknown. In this study, we show that mouse thymocytes expressed an array of glutamate receptors, including NMDARs subunits. Sustained calcium (Ca2+) signals and caspase-3 activation in thymocytes were induced by interaction with antigen-pulsed dendritic cells (DCs) and were inhibited by NMDAR antagonists MK801 and memantine. NMDARs were transiently activated, triggered the sustained Ca2+ signal and were corecruited with the PDZ-domain adaptor postsynaptic density (PSD)-95 to thymocyte-DC contact zones. Although T-cell receptor (TCR) activation was sufficient for relocalization of NMDAR and PSD-95 at the contact zone, NMDAR could be activated only in a synaptic context. In these T-DC contacts, thymocyte activation occurred in the absence of exogenous glutamate, indicating that DCs could be a physiological source of glutamate. DCs expressed glutamate, glutamate-specific vesicular glutamate transporters and were capable of fast glutamate release through a Ca2+-dependent mechanism. We suggest that glutamate released by DCs could elicit focal responses through NMDAR-signalling in T cells undergoing apoptosis. Thus, synapses between T and DCs could provide a functional platform for coupling TCR activation and NMDAR signalling, which might reflect on T-cell development and modulation of the immune response.
PMCID: PMC3131881  PMID: 20577261
calcium signalling; thymocyte; NMDAR; glutamate signalling; immunological synapse
22.  Neuroadaptive changes in the mesocortical glutamatergic system during chronic nicotine self-administration and after extinction in rats 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;106(2):943-956.
Nicotine self-administration causes adaptation in the mesocorticolimbic glutamatergic system, including the up-regulation of ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits. We therefore determined the effects of nicotine self-administration and extinction on NMDA-induced glutamate neurotransmission between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and ventral tegmental area (VTA). On day 19 of nicotine SA, both regions were microdialyzed for glutamate while mPFC was sequentially perfused with Kreb’s Ringer buffer (KRB), 200 μM NMDA, KRB, 500 μM NMDA, KRB, and 100 mM KCl. Basal glutamate levels were unaffected, but nicotine self-administration significantly potentiated mPFC glutamate release to 200 μM NMDA, which was ineffective in controls. Furthermore, in VTA, nicotine self-administration significantly amplified glutamate responses to both mPFC infusions of NMDA. This hyper-responsive glutamate neurotransmission and enhanced glutamate subunit expression were reversed by extinction. Behavioral studies also showed that a microinjection of 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (NMDA-R antagonist) into mPFC did not affect nicotine or sucrose self-administration. However, in VTA, NBQX (AMPA-R antagonist) attenuated both nicotine and sucrose self-administration. Collectively, these studies indicate that mesocortical glutamate neurotransmission adapts to chronic nicotine self-administration and VTA AMPA-R may be involved in the maintenance of nicotine self-administration.
PMCID: PMC2587995  PMID: 18466321
GABA; glutamate; in vivo microdialysis; medial prefrontal cortex; ventral tegmental area
23.  A critical role for PSD-95/AKAP interactions in endocytosis of synaptic AMPA receptors 
Nature neuroscience  2009;12(2):172-181.
The endocytosis of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) underlies several forms of synaptic plasticity including NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term depression (LTD) but the molecular mechanisms responsible for this trafficking remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that PSD-95, a major postsynaptic density protein, plays a key role in NMDAR-triggered endocytosis of synaptic AMPARs because of its binding to AKAP150, a scaffold for specific protein kinases and phosphatases. Knockdown of PSD-95 with shRNA blocks NMDAR-triggered, but not constitutive nor mGluR-triggered endocytosis of AMPARs. Deletion of PSD-95’s SH3 and GK domains as well as a point mutation (L460P), both of which inhibit binding of PSD-95 to AKAP150, also block NMDAR-triggered AMPAR endocytosis. Furthermore, expression of a mutant AKAP150 that does not bind calcineurin inhibits this NMDAR-triggered trafficking event. These results suggest that PSD-95’s interaction with AKAP150 is critical for NMDAR-triggered AMPAR endocytosis and LTD, possibly because these scaffolds position calcineurin in the appropriate subsynaptic domain.
PMCID: PMC2694745  PMID: 19169250
24.  Dopamine D1 receptor-mediated NMDA receptor insertion depends on Fyn but not Src kinase pathway in prefrontal cortical neurons 
Molecular Brain  2010;3:20.
Interactions between dopamine and glutamate in the prefrontal cortex are essential for cognitive functions such as working memory. Modulation of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor functions by dopamine D1 receptor is believed to play a critical role in these functions. The aim of the work reported here is to explore the signaling pathway underlying D1 receptor-mediated trafficking of NMDA receptors in cultured rat prefrontal cortical neurons.
Activation of D1 receptor by selective agonist SKF-81297 significantly increased the expression of NR2B subunits. This effect was completely blocked by small interfering RNA knockdown of Fyn, but not Src. Under control conditions, neither Fyn nor Src knockdown exhibited significant effect on basal NR2B expression. D1 stimulation significantly enhanced NR2B insertion into plasma membrane in cultured PFC neurons, a process obstructed by Fyn, but not Src, knockdown.
Dopamine D1 receptor-mediated increase of NMDA receptors is thus Fyn kinase dependent. Targeting this signaling pathway may be useful in treating drug addiction and schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2902469  PMID: 20569495
25.  Generation and Characterization of Conditional Heparin-Binding EGF-Like Growth Factor Knockout Mice 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7461.
Recently, neurotrophic factors and cytokines have been shown to be associated in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is a member of the EGF family, serves as a neurotrophic molecular and plays a significant role in the brain. We generated mice in which HB-EGF activity is disrupted specifically in the ventral forebrain. These knockout mice showed (a) behavioral abnormalities similar to those described in psychiatric disorders, which were ameliorated by typical or atypical antipsychotics, (b) altered dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, (c) decreases in spine density in neurons of the prefrontal cortex, (d) reductions in the protein levels of the NR1 subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and post-synaptic protein-95 (PSD-95), (e) decreases in the EGF receptor, and in the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMK II) signal cascade. These results suggest the alterations affecting HB-EGF signaling could comprise a contributing factor in psychiatric disorder.
PMCID: PMC2759290  PMID: 19829704

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