Astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2/GLT1 prevents glutamate-induced excitotoxicity in the central nervous system. Expression of EAAT2/GLT1 is dynamically regulated by neurons. The pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves astroglial dysfunction, including dramatic loss of EAAT2/GLT1. DNA methylation of gene promoters represents one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms in regulating gene expression. The involvement of DNA methylation in the regulation of astroglial EAAT2/GLT1 expression in different conditions, especially in ALS has not been explored. In this study, we established a procedure to selectively isolate a pure astrocyte population in vitro and in vivo from BAC GLT1 eGFP mice using an eGFP-based fluorescence-activated cell sorting approach. Astrocytes isolated from this procedure are GFAP+ and GLT1+ and respond to neuronal stimulation, enabling direct methylation analysis of GLT1 promoter in these astrocytes. To investigate the role of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological EAAT2/GLT1 expression, methylation status of the EAAT2/GLT1 promoter was analyzed in astrocytes from in vitro and in vivo paradigms or postmortem ALS motor cortex by bisulfite sequencing method. DNA demethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter was highly correlated to increased GLT1 mRNA levels in astrocytes in response to neuronal stimulation; however, low level of methylation was found on CpG sites of EAAT2 promoter from postmortem motor cortex of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. In summary, hypermethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter is involved in repression of GLT1 promoter activation, but this regulation does not play a role in astroglial dysfunction of EAAT2 expression in patients with ALS.
epigenetic; astrocyte; GLT1
GLT-1 eGFP BAC reporter transgenic adult mice were used to detect GLT-1 gene expression in individual cells of CA1, CA3 and SI, and eGFP fluorescence was measured to analyze quantitatively GLT-1 promoter activity in different cells of neocortex and hippocampus. Virtually all GFAP+ astrocytes were eGFP+; we also found that about 80% of neurons in CA3 pyramidal layer, 10–70% of neurons in I-VI layers of SI and rare neurons in all strata of CA1 and in strata oriens and radiatum of CA3 were eGFP+. Analysis of eGFP intensity showed that astrocytes had a higher GLT-1 promoter activity in SI than in CA1 and CA3, and that neurons had the highest levels of GLT-1 promoter activity in CA3 stratum pyramidale and in layer VI of SI. Finally, we observed that the intensity of GLT-1 promoter activity in neurons is 1–20% of that measured in astrocytes. These results showed that in the hippocampus and neocortex GLT-1 promoter activity is observed in astrocytes and neurons, detailed the distribution of GLT-1 expressing neurons, and indicated that GLT-1 promoter activity in both astrocytes and neurons varies in different brain regions.
glutamate transporters; GLT-1/EAAT2; neurons; astrocytes; hippocampus; neocortex
Drugs which upregulate astrocyte glutamate transport may be useful neuroprotective compounds by preventing excitotoxicity. We set up a new system to identify potential neuroprotective drugs which act through GLT-1. Primary mouse striatal astrocytes grown in the presence of the growth-factor supplement G5 express high levels of the functional glutamate transporter, GLT-1 (also known as EAAT2) as assessed by Western blotting and 3H-glutamate uptake assay, and levels decline following growth factor withdrawal. The GLT-1 transcriptional enhancer dexamethasone (0.1 or 1 μM) was able to prevent loss of GLT-1 levels and activity following growth factor withdrawal. In contrast, ceftriaxone, a compound previously reported to enhance GLT-1 expression, failed to regulate GLT-1 in this system. The neuroprotective compound riluzole (100 μM) upregulated GLT-1 levels and activity, through a mechanism that was not dependent on blockade of voltage-sensitive ion channels, since zonasimide (1 mM) did not regulate GLT-1. Finally, CDP-choline (10 μM – 1 mM), a compound which promotes association of GLT-1/EAAT2 with lipid rafts was unable to prevent GLT-1 loss under these conditions. This observation extends the known pharmacological actions of riluzole, and suggests that this compound may exert its neuroprotective effects through an astrocyte-dependent mechanism.
EAAT2; neuroprotection; citicholine; Parkinson’s Disease; glutamate uptake; glutamate transporters
The neuron-astrocyte synaptic complex is a fundamental operational unit of the nervous system. Astroglia play a central role in the regulation of synaptic glutamate, via neurotransmitter transport by GLT1/EAAT2. The astroglial mechanisms underlying this essential neuron-glial communication are not known. Here we show that presynaptic terminals are sufficient and necessary for GLT1/EAAT2 transcriptional activation and have identified the molecular pathway that regulates astroglial responses to presynaptic input. Presynaptic terminals regulate astroglial GLT1/EAAT2 via kappa B-motif binding phosphoprotein (KBBP), the mouse homologue of human heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), which binds to an essential element of GLT1/EAAT2 promoter. This neuron-stimulated factor is required for GLT1/EATT2 transcriptional activation and is responsible for astroglial alterations in neural injury. Denervation of neuron-astrocyte signaling in vivo, by acute corticospinal tract transection, ricin-induced motor neuron death, or chronic neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) all result in reduced astroglial KBBP expression and transcriptional dysfunction of astroglial transporter expression. Our studies indicate that presynaptic elements dynamically coordinate normal astroglial function and also provide a fundamental signaling mechanism by which altered neuronal function and injury leads to dysregulated astroglia in CNS disease.
GLT1 is the major glutamate transporter of the brain and has been thought to be expressed exclusively in astrocytes. Although excitatory axon terminals take up glutamate, the transporter responsible has not been identified. GLT1 is expressed in at least two forms varying in the C termini, GLT1a and GLT1b. GLT1 mRNA has been demonstrated in neurons, without associated protein. Recently, evidence has been presented, using specific C terminus-directed antibodies, that GLT1b protein is expressed in neurons in vivo. These data suggested that the GLT1 mRNA detected in neurons encodes GLT1b and also that GLT1b might be the elusive presynaptic transporter. To test these hypotheses, we used variant-specific probes directed to the 3′-untranslated regions for GLT1a and GLT1b to perform in situ hybridization in the hippocampus. Contrary to expectation, GLT1a mRNA was the more abundant form. To investigate further the expression of GLT1 in neurons in the hippocampus, antibodies raised against the C terminus of GLT1a and against the N terminus of GLT1, found to be specific by testing in GLT1 knock-out mice, were used for light microscopic and EM-ICC. GLT1a protein was detected in neurons, in 14–29% of axons in the hippocampus, depending on the region. Many of the labeled axons formed axo-spinous, asymmetric, and, thus, excitatory synapses. Labeling also occurred in some spines and dendrites. The antibody against the N terminus of GLT1 also produced labeling of neuronal processes. Thus, the originally cloned form of GLT1, GLT1a, is expressed as protein in neurons in the mature hippocampus and may contribute significantly to glutamate uptake into excitatory terminals.
uptake; trafficking; alternative splicing; excitotoxicity; PDZ domain; synapse
Glutamate transporters maintain a low ambient level of glutamate in the CNS and shape the activation of glutamate receptors at synapses. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that regulate the trafficking and localization of transporters near sites of glutamate release are poorly understood. Here we examined the subcellular distribution and dynamic remodeling of the predominant glutamate transporter GLT-1 (EAAT2) in developing hippocampal astrocytes. Immunolabeling revealed that endogenous GLT-1 is concentrated into discrete clusters along branches of developing astrocytes that were apposed preferentially to synapsin-1 positive synapses. GFP-GLT-1 fusion proteins expressed in astrocytes also formed distinct clusters that lined the edges of astrocyte processes, as well as the tips of filopodia and spine-like structures. Time-lapse 3D confocal imaging in tissue slices revealed that GFP-GLT-1 clusters were dynamically remodeled on a timescale of minutes. Some transporter clusters moved within developing astrocyte branches as filopodia extended and retracted, while others maintained stable positions at the tips of spine-like structures. Blockade of neuronal activity with tetrodotoxin reduced both the density and perisynaptic localization of GLT-1 clusters. Conversely, enhancement of neuronal activity increased the size of GLT-1 clusters and their proximity to synapses. Together, these findings indicate that neuronal activity influences both the organization of glutamate transporters in developing astrocyte membranes and their position relative to synapses.
astrocyte; GLT-1; EAAT2; biolistics; time-lapse; activity
Astrocyte heterogeneity remains largely unknown in the CNS due to lack of specific astroglial markers. In this study, molecular identity of in vivo astrocytes was characterized in BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP promoter reporter transgenic mice. ALDH1L1 promoter is selectively activated in adult cortical and spinal cord astrocytes, indicated by the overlap of eGFP expression with ALDH1L1 and GFAP, but not with NeuN, APC, Olig2, IbaI, PDGFRα immunoreactivity in BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP reporter mice. Interestingly, ALDH1L1 expression levels (protein, mRNA, and promoter activity) in spinal cord were selectively decreased during postnatal maturation. In contrast, its expression was up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in both acute neural injury and chronic neurodegenerative (G93A mutant SOD1) conditions, similar to GFAP, but opposite of GLT1. ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ cells isolated through fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) from BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP mice share a highly similar gene expression profile, suggesting ALDH1L1 and GLT1 are co-expressed in the same population of astrocytes. This observation was further supported by overlap of the eGFP driven by the ALDH1L1 genomic promoter and the tdTomato driven by a 8.3kb EAAT2 promoter fragment in astrocytes of BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP X EAAT2-tdTomato mice. These studies support ALDH1L1 as a general CNS astroglial marker and investigated astrocyte heterogeneity in the CNS by comparing the molecular identity of the ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ astrocytes from astroglial reporter mice. These astroglial reporter mice provide useful in vivo tools for the molecular analysis of astrocytes in physiological and pathological conditions.
astroglia; BAC; ALDH1L1; GLT1; GFAP; oligodendroglia; ALS
The astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1, is responsible for the vast majority of glutamate uptake in the adult central nervous system (CNS), thereby regulating extracellular glutamate homeostasis and preventing excitotoxicity. Glutamate dysregulation plays a central role in outcome following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). To determine the role of GLT1 in secondary cell loss following SCI, mice heterozygous for the GLT1 astrocyte glutamate transporter (GLT1+/−) and wild-type mice received thoracic crush SCI. Compared to wild-type controls, GLT1+/− mice had an attenuated recovery in hindlimb motor function, increased lesion size, and decreased tissue sparing. GLT1+/− mice showed a decrease in intraspinal GLT1 protein and functional glutamate uptake compared to wild-type mice, accompanied by increased apoptosis and neuronal loss following crush injury. These results suggest that astrocyte GLT1 plays a role in limiting secondary cell death following SCI, and also show that compromise of key astrocyte functions has significant effects on outcome following traumatic CNS injury. These findings also suggest that increasing intraspinal GLT1 expression may represent a therapeutically relevant target for SCI treatment.
secondary injury; GLT1+/− mice; crush injury; glutamate uptake; excitotoxicity
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system and is toxic to neurons even at low concentrations. GLT1, the rodent analog of human EAAT2, is primarily responsible for glutamate clearance in the cerebrum. GLT1 was thought to be expressed exclusively in astrocytes in the mature brain. Recently, however, GLT1a was demonstrated in excitatory axon terminals where synaptic glutamate concentration rises above 1 mM during excitatory transmission. However, GLT1 function in neurons with accurate control of both intracellular and extracellular solutions mimicking synaptic concentration gradients has never been studied. Here we characterized the kinetics of coupled glutamate transporter current in whole-cell configuration and [3H]-L-glutamate uptake in cultured rat cerebral neurons across the entire range of synaptic glutamate concentrations. In both neurons and GLT1a transfected COS-7 cells, the kinetics were similar and revealed two specific components: a high affinity component with glutamate kD value around 15 μM and low affinity component with kD value around 0.2 mM. The specific low affinity component was discovered due to significant deviation of the transporter current from Michaelis-Menten kinetics in the 100 – 300 μM concentration range. Activation of the specific low affinity component led to a twofold decrease in the current/flux ratio implying a change in the transport coupling. Our data indicate that GLT1 endogenously expressed in cultured rat forebrain neurons displays high and low glutamate affinity uptake components that are different in current/flux coupling ratios. This property is intrinsic to the protein because it was also observed in GLT1a transfected COS-7 cells.
GLT1; patch-clamp; whole cell; current/flux coupling; excitotoxicity; presynaptic; synapse
The glial glutamate transporter GLT-1 is abundantly expressed in astrocytes and is crucial for glutamate removal from the synaptic cleft. Decreases in glutamate uptake activity and expression of spinal glutamate transporters are reported in animal models of pathological pain. However, the lack of available specific inhibitors and/or activators for GLT-1 makes it difficult to determine the roles of spinal GLT-1 in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. In this study, we examined the effect of gene transfer of GLT-1 into the spinal cord with recombinant adenoviruses on the inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rats.
Intraspinal infusion of adenoviral vectors expressing the GLT-1 gene increased GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord 2–21 days after the infusion. Transgene expression was primarily localized to astrocytes. The spinal GLT-1 gene transfer had no effect on acute mechanical and thermal nociceptive responses in naive rats, whereas it significantly reduced the inflammatory mechanical hyperalgesia induced by hindlimb intraplantar injection of carrageenan/kaolin. Spinal GLT-1 gene transfer 7 days before partial sciatic nerve ligation recovered the extent of the spinal GLT-1 expression in the membrane fraction that was decreased following the nerve ligation, and prevented the induction of tactile allodynia. However, the partial sciatic nerve ligation-induced allodynia was not reversed when the adenoviruses were infused 7 or 14 days after the nerve ligation.
These results suggest that overexpression of GLT-1 on astrocytes in the spinal cord by recombinant adenoviruses attenuates the induction, but not maintenance, of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, probably by preventing the induction of central sensitization, without affecting acute pain sensation. Upregulation or functional enhancement of spinal GLT-1 could be a novel strategy for the prevention of pathological pain.
Efficient excitatory transmission depends on a family of transporters that utilize the Na+-electrochemical gradient to maintain low synaptic concentrations of glutamate. These transporters consume substantial energy in the spatially restricted space of fine astrocytic processes. GLT-1 (EAAT2) mediates the bulk of this activity in forebrain. To date, relatively few proteins have been identified that associate with GLT-1. In the present study, GLT-1 immunoaffinity isolates were prepared from rat cortex using three strategies and analyzed by LC coupled tandem mass spectrometry. In addition to known interacting proteins, the analysis identified glycolytic enzymes and outer mitochondrial proteins. Using double label immunofluorescence, GLT-1 was shown to co-localize with the mitochondrial matrix protein, ubiquinol-cytochrome c reductase core protein II (UQCRC2) or the inner mitochondrial membrane protein, ADP/ATP translocase (ANT), in rat cortex. In biolistically transduced hippocampal slices, fluorescently tagged GLT-1 puncta overlapped with fluorescently tagged mitochondria along fine astrocytic processes. In a Monte Carlo-type computer simulation, this overlap was significantly more frequent than would occur by chance. Furthermore, fluorescently tagged hexokinase-1 overlapped with mitochondria or GLT-1, strongly suggesting that GLT-1, mitochondria, and the first step in glycolysis are co-compartmentalized in astrocytic processes. Acute inhibition of glycolysis or oxidative phosphorylation had no effect on glutamate uptake in hippocampal slices, but simultaneous inhibition of both processes significantly reduced transport. Together with previous results, these studies show that GLT-1 co-compartmentalizes with Na+/K+ ATPase, glycolytic enzymes, and mitochondria, providing a mechanism to spatially match energy and buffering capacity to the demands imposed by transport.
glutamate transport; GLT-1; mitochondria; glycolysis
GLT1, the predominant glutamate transporter of the forebrain, exists in two splice variant isoforms, i.e. GLT1a and GLT1b. Although GLT1 was originally only detected in astrocytes, we have recently demonstrated that GLT1a protein is expressed by neurons in the hippocampus as well. In the present study, the mRNA distribution patterns for the two isoforms were examined throughout the rat brain using non-isotopic in situ hybridization and variant specific RNA probes. Both isoforms were expressed in neuronal subgroups outside the hippocampus such as in the cerebral cortex layer VI, or the neurons in the olfactory tubercle. Similar to the hippocampus, GLT1a was the predominant transcript in neurons. Both GLT1 isoforms were widely expressed in astrocytes throughout the brain. GLT1a mRNA expression in astrocytes showed noticeable variation in labeling intensity in subregions of the hippocampus and other areas, whereas GLT1b expression in astrocytes was relatively homogeneous. On the subcellular level, GLT1a mRNA was primarily expressed in astrocyte processes, whereas GLT1b mRNA was more restricted to the astrocyte cell body. The two isoforms showed similar distributions in the subfornical organ and in tanycytes of the third ventricle. However, GLT1 expression in the pineal gland and the retina was primarily due to GLT1b, whereas GLT1a was more strongly expressed in Bergman glia in the cerebellum. These findings suggest that the expression of the two GLT1 isoforms is regulated by different mechanisms. Moreover, the function of the two isoforms may be subject to different regulatory processes.
uptake; presynaptic; alternative splicing; excitotoxicity; excitatory; synapse
Glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) plays a central role in preventing excitotoxicity by removing excess glutamate from the synaptic clefts. 17β-estradiol (E2) and tamoxifen (TX), a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), afford neuroprotection in a range of experimental models. However, the mechanisms that mediate E2 and TX neuroprotection have yet to be elucidated. We tested the hypothesis that E2 and TX enhance GLT-1 function by increasing transforming growth factor (TGF)-α expression and thus, attenuate manganese (Mn)-induced impairment in astrocytic GLT-1 expression and glutamate uptake in rat neonatal primary astrocytes. The results showed that E2 (10 nM) and TX (1 μM) increased GLT-1 expression and reversed the Mn-induced reduction in GLT-1, both at the mRNA and protein levels. E2/TX also concomitantly reversed the Mn-induced inhibition of astrocytic glutamate uptake. E2/TX activated the GLT-1 promoter and attenuated the Mn-induced repression of the GLT-1 promoter in astrocytes. TGF-α knock-down (siRNA) abolished the E2/TX effect on GLT-1 expression, and inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor (TGF-α receptor) suppressed the effect of E2/TX on GLT-1 expression and GLT-1 promoter activity. E2/TX also increased TGF-α mRNA and protein levels with a concomitant increase in astrocytic glutamate uptake. All estrogen receptors (ERs: ER-α ER-β and GPR30) were involved in mediating E2 effects on the regulation of TGF-α, GLT-1, and glutamate uptake. These results indicate that E2/TX increase GLT-1 expression in astrocytes via TGF-α signaling, thus offering an important putative target for the development of novel therapeutics for neurological disorders.
GLT-1; TGF-α; glutamate uptake; glutamate transporter; manganese; tamoxifen; 17β-estradiol; astrocytes
The Bacillus subtilis gltAB operon, encoding glutamate synthase, requires a specific positive regulator, GltC, for its expression and is repressed by the global regulatory protein TnrA. The factor that controls TnrA activity, a complex of glutamine synthetase and a feedback inhibitor, such as glutamine, is known, but the signal for modulation of GltC activity has remained elusive. GltC-dependent gltAB expression was drastically reduced when cells were grown in media containing arginine or ornithine or proline, all of which are inducers and substrates of the Roc catabolic pathway. Analysis of gltAB expression in mutants with various defects in the Roc pathway indicated that rocG-encoded glutamate dehydrogenase was required for such repression, suggesting that the substrates or products of this enzyme are the real effectors of GltC. Given that RocG is an enzyme of glutamate catabolism, the main regulatory role of GltC may be prevention of a futile cycle of glutamate synthesis and degradation in the presence of arginine-related amino acids or proline. In addition, high activity of glutamate dehydrogenase was incompatible with activity of TnrA.
Glutamate is a regulated molecule in the mammalian testis. Extracellular regulation of glutamate in the body is determined largely by the expression of plasmalemmal glutamate transporters. We have examined by PCR, western blotting and immunocytochemistry the expression of a panel of sodium-dependent plasmalemmal glutamate transporters in the rat testis. Proteins examined included: glutamate aspartate transporter (GLAST), glutamate transporter 1 (GLT1), excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1), excitatory amino acid transporter 4 (EAAT4) and EAAT5. We demonstrate that many of the glutamate transporters in the testis are alternately spliced. GLAST is present as exon-3- and exon-9-skipping forms. GLT1 was similarly present as the alternately spliced forms GLT1b and GLT1c, whereas the abundant brain form (GLT1a) was detectable only at the mRNA level. EAAT5 was also strongly expressed, whereas EAAC1 and EAAT4 were absent. These patterns of expression were compared with the patterns of endogenous glutamate localization and with patterns of 𝒹-aspartate accumulation, as assessed by immunocytochemistry. The presence of multiple glutamate transporters in the testis, including unusually spliced forms, suggests that glutamate homeostasis may be critical in this organ. The apparent presence of many of these transporters in the testis and sperm may indicate a need for glutamate transport by such cells.
excitatory amino acid transporter; glutamate aspartate transporter; glutamate transporter 1; sperm; splice variant; testis; transporter
Astrocytes remove glutamate from the synaptic cleft via specific transporters, and impaired glutamate reuptake may promote excitotoxic neuronal injury. In a model of viral encephalomyelitis caused by neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), mice develop acute paralysis and spinal motor neuron degeneration inhibited by the AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX. To investigate disrupted glutamate homeostasis in the spinal cord, expression of the main astroglial glutamate transporter, GLT-1, was examined. GLT-1 levels declined in the spinal cord during acute infection while GFAP expression was preserved. There was simultaneous production of inflammatory cytokines at this site, and susceptible animals treated with drugs that blocked IL-1β release also limited paralysis and prevented the loss of GLT-1 expression. Conversely, infection of resistant mice that develop mild paralysis following NSV challenge showed higher baseline GLT-1 levels as well as lower production of IL-1β and relatively preserved GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord compared to susceptible hosts. Finally, spinal cord GLT-1 expression was largely maintained following infection of IL-1β-deficient animals. Together, these data show that IL-1β inhibits astrocyte glutamate transport in the spinal cord during viral encephalomyelitis. They provide one of the strongest in vivo links between innate immune responses and the development of excitotoxicity demonstrated to date.
glutamate transporters; interleukin-1β; viral encephalomyelitis; motor neuron; excitotoxicity
To identify glutamate transporters expressed in forebrain neurons, we prepared a cDNA library from rat forebrain neuronal cultures, previously shown to transport glutamate with high affinity and capacity. Using this library, we cloned two forms, varying in the C terminus, of the glutamate transporter GLT1. This transporter was previously found to be localized exclusively in astrocytes in the normal mature brain. Specific antibodies against the C-terminal peptides were used to show that forebrain neurons in culture express both GLT1a and GLT1b proteins. The pharmacological properties of glutamate transport mediated by GLT1a and GLT1b expressed in COS-7 cells and in neuronal cultures were indistinguishable. Both GLT1a and GLT1b were upregulated in astrocyte cultures by exposure to dibutyryl cAMP. We next investigated the expression of GLT1b in vivo. Northern blot analysis of forebrain RNA revealed two transcripts of ~3 and 11 kb that became more plentiful with developmental age. Immunoblot analysis showed high levels of expression in the cortex, hippocampus, striatum, thalamus, and midbrain. Pre-embedding electron microscopic immunocytochemistry with silver-enhanced immunogold detection was used to localize GLT1b in vivo. In the rat somatosensory cortex, GLT1b was clearly expressed in neurons in presynaptic terminals and dendritic shafts, as well as in astrocytes. The presence of GLT1b in neurons may offer a partial explanation for the observed uptake of glutamate by presynaptic terminals, for the preservation of input specificity at excitatory synapses, and may play a role in the pathophysiology of excitotoxicity.
glutamate; transport; dihydrokainate; presynaptic; astrocytes; synapse; excitotoxicity
Astrocytes play a major role in the removal of glutamate from the extracellular compartment. This clearance limits the glutamate receptor activation and affects the synaptic response. This function of the astrocyte is dependent on its positioning around the synapse, as well as on the level of expression of its high-affinity glutamate transporters, GLT1 and GLAST. Using Western blot analysis and serial section electron microscopy, we studied how a change in sensory activity affected these parameters in the adult cortex. Using mice, we found that 24 h of whisker stimulation elicited a 2-fold increase in the expression of GLT1 and GLAST in the corresponding cortical column of the barrel cortex. This returns to basal levels 4 d after the stimulation was stopped, whereas the expression of the neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1 remained unaltered throughout. Ultrastructural analysis from the same region showed that sensory stimulation also causes a significant increase in the astrocytic envelopment of excitatory synapses on dendritic spines. We conclude that a period of modified neuronal activity and synaptic release of glutamate leads to an increased astrocytic coverage of the bouton–spine interface and an increase in glutamate transporter expression in astrocytic processes.
After increased sensory activity in the somatosensory cortex, astrocytic processes expand to increase their coverage of the bouton-spine interface, and expression of astrocytic glutamate transporters is up-regulated as well.
Glutamate is the predominant excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Glutamate transporter EAAT2 /GLT-1 is the physiologically dominant astroglial protein that inactivates synaptic glutamate. Previous studies have shown that EAAT2 dysfunction leads to excessive extracellular glutamate and may contribute to various neurological disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The recent discovery of the neuroprotective properties of ceftriaxone, a beta lactam antibiotic, suggested that increasing EAAT2 /GLT-1 gene expression might be beneficial in ALS and other neurological/psychiatric disorders by augmenting astrocytic glutamate uptake. Here we report our efforts to develop a new screening assay for identifying compounds that activate EAAT2 gene expression. We generated fetal derived-human immortalized astroglial cells that are stably expressing a firefly luciferase reporter under the control of the human EAAT2 promoter. When screening a library of 1040 FDA approved compounds and natural products, we identified harmine, a naturally occurring beta-carboline alkaloid, as one of the top hits for activating the EAAT2 promoter. We further tested harmine in our in vitro cell culture systems and confirmed its ability to increase EAAT2/GLT1 gene expression and functional glutamate uptake activity. We next tested its efficacy in both wild type animals and in an ALS animal model of disease and demonstrated that harmine effectively increased GLT-1 protein and glutamate transporter activity in vivo. Our studies provide potential novel neurotherapeutics by modulating the activity of glutamate transporters via gene activation.
harmine; GLT-1; EAAT2; glutamate transporter; astroglia; ALS
Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) is a neuronotropic virus that causes a fulminant encephalomyelitis in susceptible mice due to death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. We and others have found that uninfected motor neurons die in response to NSV infection, at least in part due to disrupted astrocytic glutamate transport, resulting in excitotoxic motor neuron death. Here, we examined the mechanisms of astrocyte dysregulation associated with NSV infection. Treatment of organotypic slice cultures with NSV results in viral replication, cell death, altered astrocyte morphology, and the downregulation of the astrocytic glutamate transporter, GLT-1. We have found that TNF-α can mediate GLT-1 downregulation. Furthermore, TNF-α deficient mice infected with NSV exhibit neither GLT-1 downregulation nor neuronal death of brainstem and cervical spinal cord motor neurons and have markedly reduced mortality. These findings have implications for disease intervention and therapeutic development for the prevention of CNS damage associated with inflammatory responses.
Astrocyte; TNF-α; Motor neuron; GLT-1; Glutamate; Virus
A mutation (gltR24) that allows Bacillus subtilis glutamate synthase (gltAB) gene expression in the absence of its positive regulator, GltC, was identified. Cloning and sequencing of the gltR gene revealed that the putative gltR product belongs to the LysR family of transcriptional regulators and is thus related to GltC. A null mutation in gltR had no effect on gltAB expression under any environmental condition tested, suggesting that gltR24 is a gain-of-function mutation. GltR24-dependent transcription of gltAB, initiated at the same base pair as GltC-dependent transcription, was responsive to the nitrogen source in the medium and required the integrity of sequences upstream of the gltAB promoter that are also necessary for GltC-dependent expression. Expression of the gltC gene, transcribed divergently from gltA from an overlapping promoter, was not affected by GltR. Both wild-type GltR and GltR24 negatively regulated their own expression. The gltR gene was mapped to 233 degrees on the B. subtilis chromosome, very close to the azlB locus.
Perinatal brain injury is the leading cause of subsequent neurological disability in both term and preterm baby. Glutamate excitotoxicity is one of the major factors involved in perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Glutamate transporter GLT1, expressed mainly in mature astrocytes, is the major glutamate transporter in the brain. HIE induced excessive glutamate release which is not reuptaked by immature astrocytes may induce neuronal damage. Compounds, such as ceftriaxone, that enhance the expression of GLT1 may exert neuroprotective effect in HIE.
We used a neonatal rat model of HIE by unilateral ligation of carotid artery and subsequent exposure to 8% oxygen for 2 hrs on postnatal day 7 (P7) rats. Neonatal rats were administered three dosages of an antibiotic, ceftriaxone, 48 hrs prior to experimental HIE. Neurobehavioral tests of treated rats were assessed. Brain sections from P14 rats were examined with Nissl and immunohistochemical stain, and TUNEL assay. GLT1 protein expression was evaluated by Western blot and immunohistochemistry.
Pre-treatment with 200 mg/kg ceftriaxone significantly reduced the brain injury scores and apoptotic cells in the hippocampus, restored myelination in the external capsule of P14 rats, and improved the hypoxia-ischemia induced learning and memory deficit of P23-24 rats. GLT1 expression was observed in the cortical neurons of ceftriaxone treated rats.
These results suggest that pre-treatment of infants at risk for HIE with ceftriaxone may reduce subsequent brain injury.
β-lactam antibiotics; ceftriaxone; hypoxic-ischemic injury; neonatal rat; GLT1; EAAT2
We have previously shown that the atypical methylxanthine, propentofylline, reduces mechanical allodynia after peripheral nerve transection in a rodent model of neuropathy. In the present study, we sought to determine whether propentofylline-induced glial modulation alters spinal glutamate transporters, GLT-1 and GLAST in vivo, which may contribute to reduced behavioral hypersensitivity after nerve injury. In order to specifically examine the expression of the spinal glutamate transporters, a novel line of double transgenic GLT-1-eGFP/GLAST-DsRed promoter mice was used. Adult mice received propentofylline (10 mg/kg) or saline via intraperitoneal injection starting 1-hour prior to L5-spinal nerve transection and then daily for 12 days. Mice receiving saline exhibited punctate expression of both eGFP (GLT-1 promoter activation) and DsRed (GLAST promoter activation) in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, which was decreased ipsilateral to nerve injury on day 12. Propentofylline administration reinstated promoter activation on the injured side as evidenced by an equal number of eGFP (GLT-1) and DsRed (GLAST) puncta in both dorsal horns. As demonstrated in previous studies, propentofylline induced a concomitant reversal of L5 spinal nerve transection-induced expression of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP). The ability of propentofylline to alter glial glutamate transporters highlights the importance of controlling aberrant glial activation in neuropathic pain and suggests one possible mechanism for the anti-allodynic action of this drug.
Spinal glia; Neuropathic pain; Neuroimmune; Peripheral nerve injury; Mice
Astrocytes express the sodium-dependent glutamate transporters GLAST and GLT-1, which are critical to maintain low extracellular glutamate concentrations. Here, we analyzed changes in their expression and function following a mechanical lesion in the CA1 area of organotypic hippocampal slices. 6-7 days after lesion, a glial scar had formed along the injury site, containing strongly activated astrocytes with increased GFAP and S100β immunoreactivity, enlarged somata, and reduced capability for uptake of SR101. Astrocytes in the scar's periphery were swollen as well, but showed only moderate upregulation of GFAP and S100β and efficiently took up SR101. In the scar, clusters of GLT-1 and GLAST immunoreactivity colocalized with GFAP-positive fibers. Apart from these, GLT-1 immunoreactivity declined with increasing distance from the scar, whereas GLAST expression appeared largely uniform. Sodium imaging in reactive astrocytes indicated that glutamate uptake was strongly reduced in the scar but maintained in the periphery. Our results thus show that moderately reactive astrocytes in the lesion periphery maintain overall glutamate transporter expression and function. Strongly reactive astrocytes in the scar, however, display clusters of GLAST and GLT-1 immunoreactivity together with reduced glutamate transport activity. This reduction might contribute to increased extracellular glutamate concentrations and promote excitotoxic cell damage at the lesion site.
Glutamate neurotransmission is highly regulated, largely by glutamate transporters. In the spinal cord, the glutamate transporter GLT-1 is primarily responsible for glutamate clearance. Downregulation of GLT-1 can occur in activated astrocytes, and is associated with increased extracellular glutamate and neuroexcitation. Among other conditions, astrocyte activation occurs following repeated opioids and in models of chronic pain. If GLT-1 downregulation occurs in these states, GLT-1 could be a pharmacological target for improving opioid efficacy and controlling chronic pain. The present studies explored whether daily intrathecal treatment of rats with ceftriaxone, a β-lactam antibiotic that upregulates GLT-1 expression, could prevent development of hyperalgesia and allodynia following repeated morphine, reverse pain arising from central or peripheral neuropathy, and reduce glial activation in these models. Ceftriaxone pre-treatment attenuated the development of hyperalgesia and allodynia in response to repeated morphine, and prevented associated astrocyte activation. In a model of multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; EAE), ceftriaxone reversed tactile allodynia and halted the progression of motor weakness and paralysis. Similarly, ceftriaxone reversed tactile allodynia induced by chronic constriction nerve injury (CCI). EAE and CCI each significantly reduced the expression of membrane-bound, dimerized GLT-1 protein in lumbar spinal cord, an effect normalized by ceftriaxone. Lastly, ceftriaxone normalized CCI- and EAE-induced astrocyte activation in lumbar spinal cord. Together, these data indicate that increasing spinal GLT-1 expression attenuates opioid-induced paradoxical pain, alleviates neuropathic pain, and suppresses associated glial activation. GLT-1 therefore may be a therapeutic target that could improve available treatment options for patients with chronic pain.
opioid; spinal cord; multiple sclerosis; astrocyte; allodynia; hyperalgesia