Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity is known to be important in learning and memory, persistent pain and drug addiction. Glutamate NMDA receptor activation stimulates several protein kinases, which then trigger biochemical cascades that lead to modifications in synaptic efficacy. Genetic and pharmacological techniques have been used to show a role for Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) in synaptic plasticity and memory formation. However, it is not known if increasing CaMKII activity in forebrain areas affects behavioral responses to tissue injury. Using genetic and pharmacological techniques, we were able to temporally and spatially restrict the over expression of CaMKII in forebrain areas. Here we show that genetic overexpression of CaMKII in the mouse forebrain selectively inhibits tissue injury-induced behavioral sensitization, including allodynia and hyperalgesia, while behavioral responses to acute noxious stimuli remain intact. CaMKII overexpression also inhibited synaptic depression induced by a prolonged repetitive stimulation in the ACC, suggesting an important role for CaMKII in the regulation of cingulate neurons. Our results suggest that neuronal CaMKII activity in the forebrain plays a role in persistent pain.
Changes in protein–protein interactions and activity states have been proposed to underlie persistent synaptic remodeling that is induced by transient stimuli. Here, we show an unusual stimulus-dependent transition from a short-lived to long-lasting binding between a synaptic receptor and its transducer. Both molecules, the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B and Ca2+/calmodulin (CaM)-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), are strongly implicated in mediating synaptic plasticity. We show that CaMKII reversibly translocates to synaptic sites in response to brief stimuli, but its resident time at the synapse increases after longer stimulation. Thus, CaMKII localization reflects temporal patterns of synaptic stimulation. We have identified two surface regions of CaMKII involved in short-lived and long-term interactions with NR2B. Our results support an initial reversible and Ca2+/CaM-dependent binding at the substrate-binding site (“S-site”). On longer stimulation, a persistent interaction is formed at the T286-binding site (“T-site”), thereby keeping the autoregulatory domain displaced and enabling Ca2+/CaM-independent kinase activity. Such dual modes of interaction were observed in vitro and in HEK cells. In hippocampal neurons, short-term stimulation initiates a reversible translocation, but an active history of stimulation beyond some threshold produces a persistent synaptic localization of CaMKII. This activity-dependent incorporation of CaMKII into postsynaptic sites may play a role in maturation and plasticity of synapses.
kinase; synapse; plasticity; glutamate; calcium; NMDA receptor
Calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is a key mediator of synaptic plasticity and learning. Global pyramidal cell glutamate stimulation induces translocation of CaMKII from dendritic shafts to spines. Here we show that local dendritic stimulation by puffing glutamate onto a region containing 7-32 synapses induces translocation of CaMKII to synapses initially at the puff site, but that translocation subsequently spreads within dendrites to the distal dendrite arbor, resulting in a persistent, widespread synaptic accumulation. This locally-induced propagating synaptic (L-IPS) accumulation of CaMKII requires activation of NMDA receptors and L-type Ca++ channels and is preceded by a Ca++ spike. L-IPS translocation of CaMKII alters biochemical signaling and is associated with an increase in AMPA receptor GluR1 at both stimulated and non-stimulated synapses and thus provides a molecular mechanism for heterosynaptic plasticity.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are critical for neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. The molecular mechanisms underlying the synaptic localization and functional regulation of NMDA receptors have been the subject of extensive studies. In particular, phosphorylation has emerged as a fundamental mechanism that regulates NMDA receptor trafficking and can alter the channel properties of NMDA receptors. Here we summarize recent advances in the characterization of NMDA receptor phosphorylation, emphasizing subunit-specific phosphorylation, which differentially controls the trafficking and surface expression of NMDA receptors.
NMDA receptors; Phosphorylation; Kinase; Glutamate
The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor expressed at excitatory glutamatergic synapses is required for learning and memory and is critical for normal brain function. At a cellular level, this receptor plays a pivotal role in triggering and controlling synaptic plasticity. While it has been long recognized that this receptor plays a regulatory role, it was considered by many to be itself immune to synaptic activity-induced plasticity. More recently, we and others have shown that NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses can be subject to activity-dependent depression.
Here we show that depression of synaptic transmission mediated by NMDA receptors displays a state-dependence in its plasticity; NMDA receptors are resistant to activity-induced changes at silent and recently-silent synapses. Once synapses transition to the active state however, NMDA receptors become fully 'plastic'. This state-dependence is identical to that shown by the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor. Furthermore, the down-regulation of NMDAR-mediated responses during synaptic depression is prevented by disruption of dynamin-dependent endocytosis.
NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses are plastic in a state-dependent manner. Depending on the plasticity state in which a synapse currently resides, NMDA receptors will either be available or unavailable for down-regulation. The mechanism underlying the down-regulation of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses is endocytosis of the NMDA receptor. Other potential mechanisms, such as receptor diffusion along the plane of the membrane, or changes in the activity of the channel are not supported. The mechanisms of AMPA receptor and NMDA receptor endocytosis appear to be tightly coupled, as both are either available or unavailable for endocytosis in the same synaptic states. Endocytosis of NMDA receptors would serve as a potent mechanism for metaplasticity. Such state-dependent regulation of NMDAR endocytosis will provide fundamental control over downstream NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity of neuronal circuitry.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are associated with many forms of synaptic plasticity. Their expression level and subunit composition undergo developmental changes in several brain regions. In the mouse cerebellum, beside a developmental switch between NR2B and NR2A/C subunits in granule cells, functional postsynaptic NMDA receptors are seen in Purkinje cells of neonate and adult but not juvenile rat and mice. A presynaptic effect of NMDA on GABA release by cerebellar interneurons was identified recently. Nevertheless whereas NMDA receptor subunits are detected on parallel fiber terminals, a presynaptic effect of NMDA on spontaneous release of glutamate has not been demonstrated. Using mouse cerebellar cultures and patch-clamp recordings we show that NMDA facilitates glutamate release onto Purkinje cells in young cultures via a presynaptic mechanism, whereas NMDA activates extrasynaptic receptors in Purkinje cells recorded in old cultures. The presynaptic effect of NMDA on glutamate release is also observed in Purkinje cells recorded in acute slices prepared from juvenile but not from adult mice and requires a specific protocol of NMDA application.
The insertion and removal of N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors from the synapse are critical events that modulate synaptic plasticity. While a great deal of progress has been made on understanding the mechanisms that modulate trafficking of NMDA receptors, we do not currently understand the molecular events required for the fusion of receptor containing vesicles with the plasma membrane. Here we show that sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase3 (also known as neutral sphingomyelinase-2; nSMase2) is critical for TNFα-induced trafficking of NMDA receptors and synaptic plasticity. TNFα initiated a rapid increase in ceramide that was associated with increased surface localization of NMDA receptor NR1 subunits and a specific clustering of NR1 phosphorylated on serines 896 and 897 into lipid rafts. Brief applications of TNFα increased the rate and amplitude of NMDA-evoked calcium bursts and enhanced excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). Pharmacological inhibition or genetic mutation of nSMase2 prevented TNFα-induced generation of ceramide, phosphorylation of NR1 subuints, clustering of NR1, enhancement of NMDA-evoked calcium flux and EPSCs.
Previous studies have shown that the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is an important target for the actions of ethanol in the brain. NMDA receptors are glutamate-activated ion channels that are highly expressed in neurons. They are activated during periods of significant glutamatergic synaptic activity and are an important source of the signaling molecule calcium in the post-synaptic spine. Alterations in the function of NMDA receptors by drugs or disease are associated with deficits in motor, sensory and cognitive processes of the brain. Acutely, ethanol inhibits ion flow through NMDA receptors while sustained exposure to ethanol can induce compensatory changes in the density and localization of the receptor. Defining factors that govern the acute ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors is an important step in how an individual responds to ethanol. In the present study, we investigated the effect of calcium-calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) on the ethanol sensitivity of recombinant NMDA receptors. CaMKII is a major constituent of the post-synaptic density and is critically involved in various forms of learning and memory. NMDA receptor subunits were transiently expressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells (HEK 293) along with CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β tagged with the green fluorescent protein (GFP). Whole cell currents were elicited by brief exposures to glutamate and were measured using patchclamp electrophysiology. Neither CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β had any significant effect on the ethanol inhibition of NR1/2A or NR1/2B receptors. Ethanol inhibition was also unaltered by deletion of CaMKII binding domains in NR1 or NR2 subunits or by phospho-site mutants that mimic or occlude CaMKII phosphorylation. Chronic treatment of cortical neurons with ethanol had no significant effect on the expression of CaMKII-α or CaMKII-β. The results of this study suggest that CaMKII is not involved in regulating the acute ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors.
electrophysiology; alcohol; ion channel; kinase; phosphorylation
It has been suggested that NR2B-containing NMDA receptors have a selective tendency to promote pro-death signalling and synaptic depression, compared to the survival promoting, synapse potentiating properties of NR2A-containing NMDA receptors. A preferential localization of NR2A-containing NMDA receptors at the synapse in maturing neurons could thus explain differences in synaptic vs. extrasynaptic NMDA receptor signalling.
We have investigated whether NMDA receptors can mediate signalling to survival, death, and synaptic potentiation, in neurons at a developmental stage prior to significant NR2A expression and subunit-specific differences between synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors. We show that in developing hippocampal neurons, the progressive reduction in sensitivity of NMDA receptor currents to the NR2B antagonist ifenprodil applies to both synaptic and extrasynaptic locations. However, the reduction is less acute in extrasynaptic currents, indicating that NR2A does partition preferentially, but not exclusively, into synaptic locations at DIV>12. We then studied NMDA receptor signalling at DIV10, when both synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors are both overwhelmingly and equally NR2B-dominated. To analyse pro-survival signalling we studied the influence of synaptic NMDA receptor activity on staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Blockade of spontaneous NMDAR activity with MK-801, or ifenprodil exacerbated the apoptotic insult. Furthermore, MK-801 and ifenprodil both antagonized neuroprotection promoted by enhancing synaptic activity. Pro-death signalling induced by a toxic dose of NMDA is also blocked by NR2B-specific antagonists. Using a cell culture model of synaptic NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic potentiation, we find that this is mediated exclusively by NR2B-containing NMDARs, as implicated by NR2B-specific antagonists and the use of selective vs. non-selective doses of the NR2A-preferring antagonist NVP-AAM077.
Therefore, within a single neuron, NR2B-NMDA receptors are able to mediate both survival and death signalling, as well as model of NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic potentiation. In this instance, subunit differences cannot account for the dichotomous nature of NMDA receptor signalling.
Apoptosis; necrosis; extrasynaptic; neuroprotection; NR2A
Glutamatergic synapses play critical roles in brain functions and diseases. Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a most effective cellular model for investigating the synaptic changes that underlie learning as well as brain disease – although different molecular mechanisms are likely involved in LTP in physiological and pathological conditions. In the case of learning, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is known to be important for triggering learning-related plasticity; alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic (AMPA) receptors are thought to be important for the expression of synaptic changes. In this review, I will examine recent evidence on the novel roles of NMDA receptors, in particular NR2B subunit-containing NMDA receptors in learning and chronic pain. A positive feedback control of NR2B receptor subunit is proposed to explain cortical sensitization involved in chronic pain, but not learning and memory.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are ligand-gated ion channels activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate. These channels are highly expressed by brain neurons and are critically involved in excitatory synaptic transmission. Results from previous studies show that both native and recombinant NMDA receptors are inhibited by ethanol at concentrations associated with signs of behavioral impairment and intoxication. Given the important role that NMDA receptors play in synaptic transmission and brain function, it is important to understand the factors that regulate the ethanol inhibition of these receptors. One dynamic mechanism for regulating ethanol action may be via phosphorylation of NMDA subunits by serine-threonine and tyrosine kinases. Both NR1 and NR2 subunits contain multiple sites of phosphorylation and in the NR1 subunit, most of these are contained within the C1 domain, a carboxy-terminal cassette that is subject to alternative splicing. While results from our previous studies suggest that single phosphorylation sites do not greatly affect ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors, it is likely that in vivo, these subunits are phosphorylated at multiple sites by different kinases. In the present study, we constructed a series of NMDA receptor mutants at serine (S) or threonine (T) residues proposed to be sites of phosphorylation by PKA and various isoforms of PKC. Ethanol (100 mM) inhibited currents from wild-type NR1/2A and NR1/2B receptors expressed in HEK293 cells by approximately 25% and 30% respectively. This inhibition was not different in single site mutants expressing alanine (A) or aspartate/glutamate (D/E) at positions T879, S896 or T900. The mutant NR1(S890D) showed greater ethanol inhibition than NR1(890A) containing receptors although this was only observed when it was combined with the NR2A subunit. Ethanol inhibition was not altered by aspartate substitution at four serines (positions 889, 890, 896, 897) or when T879D was added to the four serine-substituted mutant. Ethanol inhibition was increased when T900E was added to the five serine/threonine substituted mutant but again this was selective for NR2A containing receptors. Together with previously published data, these findings suggest that modification of putative phosphorylation sites could contribute to the overall acute ethanol sensitivity of recombinant NMDA receptors. Supported by R37 AA009986.
PKA; PKC; phosphorylation; electrophysiology; alcohol
Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type glutamate receptors is essential in triggering various forms of synaptic plasticity. A critical issue is to what extent such plasticity involves persistent changes of glutamate receptor subtypes and many prior studies have suggested a main role for alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptors in mediating the effect. Our previous work in hippocampal slices revealed that, under pharmacological unblocking of NMDA receptors, both AMPA and NMDA receptor mediated responses undergo a slowly developing depression. In the present study we have further adressed this phenomenon, focusing on the contribution via NMDA receptors. Pharmacologically isolated NMDA receptor mediated excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were recorded for two independent synaptic pathways in CA1 area using perfusion with low Mg2+ (0.1 mM) to unblock NMDA receptors.
Following unblocking of NMDA receptors, there was a gradual decline of NMDA receptor mediated EPSPs for 2–3 hours towards a stable level of ca. 60–70 % of the maximal size. If such an experimental session was repeated twice in the same pathway with a period of NMDA receptor blockade in between, the depression attained in the first session was still evident in the second one and no further decay occurred. The persistency of the depression was also validated by comparison between pathways. It was found that the responses of a control pathway, unstimulated in the first session of receptor unblocking, behaved as novel responses when tested in association with the depressed pathway under the second session. In similar experiments, but with AP5 present during the first session, there was no subsequent difference between NMDA EPSPs.
Our findings show that merely evoking NMDA receptor mediated responses results in a depression which is input specific, induced via NMDA receptor activation, and is maintained for several hours through periods of receptor blockade. The similarity to key features of long-term depression and long-term potentiation suggests a possible relation to these phenomena. Additionally, a short term potentiation and decay (<5 min) were observed during sudden start of NMDA receptor activation supporting the idea that NMDA receptor mediated responses are highly plastic.
Ca2+ influx through the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor triggers activation and postsynaptic accumulation of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII). CaMKII, calmodulin, and α-actinin directly bind to the short membrane proximal C0 domain of the C-terminal region of the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit. In a negative feedback loop, calmodulin mediates Ca2+-dependent inactivation of the NMDA receptor by displacing α-actinin from NR1 C0 upon Ca2+ influx. We show that Ca2+-depleted calmodulin and α-actinin simultaneously bind to NR1 C0. Upon addition of Ca2+, calmodulin dislodges α-actinin. Either the N- or C-terminal half of calmodulin is sufficient for Ca2+-induced displacement of α-actinin. While α-actinin directly antagonizes CaMKII binding to NR1 C0, the addition of Ca2+/calmodulin shifts binding of NR1 C0 toward CaMKII by displacing α-actinin. Displacement of α-actinin results in the simultaneous binding of calmodulin and CaMKII to NR1 C0. Our results reveal an intricate mechanism whereby Ca2+ functions to govern the complex interactions between the two most prevalent signaling molecules in synaptic plasticity, the NMDA receptor and CaMKII.
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.
brain; developmental neuroscience; pain processing; CamKII
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a concomitant of sleep apnea that produces a slowly developing chemosensory-dependent blood pressure elevation ascribed in part to NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity and reduced nitric oxide (NO) signaling in the carotid body. The hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is responsive to hypoxic stress and also contains neurons that express NMDA receptors and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). We tested the hypothesis that extended (35 day) CIH results in a decrease in the surface/synaptic availability of the essential NMDA NR1 subunit in nNOS-containing neurons and NMDA-induced NO production in the PVN of mice. As compared with controls, the 35 day CIH-exposed mice showed a significant increase in blood pressure and an increased density of NR1 immunogold particles located in the cytoplasm of nNOS-containing dendrites. Neither of these between-group differences was seen after 14 days, even though there was already a reduction in the NR1 plasmalemmal density at this time point. Patch-clamp recording of PVN neurons in slices showed a significant reduction in NMDA currents after either 14 or 35 day exposure to CIH as compared with sham controls. In contrast, NO production, as measured by the NO-sensitive fluorescent dye DAF-FM, was suppressed only in the 35 day CIH group. We conclude that CIH produces a reduction in the surface/synaptic targeting of NR1 in nNOS neurons and decreases NMDA receptor-mediated currents in the PVN prior to the emergence of hypertension, the development of which may be enabled by suppression of NO signaling in this brain region.
hypertension; sleep apnea; sympathetic nerve activity; NR1; immunocytochemistry; electron microscopy
Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity underlies, at least in part, learning and memory processes. NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) is a major synaptic plasticity model. During LTP induction, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is activated, autophosphorylated and persistently translocated to the postsynaptic density, where it binds to the NMDAR. If any of these steps is inhibited, LTP is disrupted. The endogenous CaMKII inhibitor proteins CaMKIINα,β are rapidly upregulated in specific brain regions after learning. We recently showed that transient application of peptides derived from CaMKIINα (CN peptides) persistently depresses synaptic strength and reverses LTP saturation, as it allows further LTP induction in previously saturated pathways. The treatment disrupts basal CaMKII-NMDAR interaction and decreases bound CaMKII fraction in spines. To unravel CaMKIIN function and to further understand CaMKII role in synaptic strength maintenance, here we more deeply investigated the mechanism of synaptic depression induced by CN peptides (CN-depression) in rat hippocampal slices. We showed that CN-depression does not require glutamatergic synaptic activity or Ca2+ signaling, thus discarding unspecific triggering of activity-dependent long-term depression (LTD) in slices. Moreover, occlusion experiments revealed that CN-depression and NMDAR-LTD have different expression mechanisms. We showed that CN-depression does not involve complex metabolic pathways including protein synthesis or proteasome-mediated degradation. Remarkably, CN-depression cannot be resolved in neonate rats, for which CaMKII is mostly cytosolic and virtually absent at the postsynaptic densities. Overall, our results support a direct effect of CN peptides on synaptic CaMKII-NMDAR binding and suggest that CaMKIINα,β could be critical plasticity-related proteins that may operate as cell-wide homeostatic regulators preventing saturation of LTP mechanisms or may selectively erase LTP-induced traces in specific groups of synapses.
During postnatal development, the dendrites of spinal motor neurons are refined in an activity-dependent manner that can be influenced by blocking activation of N-Methyl-d-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors. In late postnatal life, dendritic refinement ceases, and dendrite architecture is unaffected by NMDA antagonists; however the molecular substrate for limiting dendritic plasticity is not understood. During late postnatal development, expression of the NR3B NMDA receptor subunit, a putative dominant-negative subunit that reduces glutamate-induced ionic currents, is upregulated within motor neurons. To investigate whether increasing NR3B expression may contribute to the loss in late development of activity-dependent dendritic reorganization in the spinal cord, we over-expressed NR3B in cultured spinal motor neurons, and compared its effects on dendrite morphology with the effects of pharmacological blockade of NMDA receptors. We found that over-expression of the NR3B receptor subunit increased the length and complexity of dendritic arbor, and increased numbers of dendritic filopodia, suggesting that NR3B promotes the addition of branch segments in developing motor neurons. In contrast, blockade of NMDA receptor activity by the NMDA antagonist AP5 had little effect on the overall length or complexity of dendritic arbor. Instead, treatment with AP5 resulted in significant reorganization of dendritic arbor in a manner that favored addition of dendritic segments of high branch orders, at the expense of those closer to the cell body. These results suggest that expression of the NR3B subunit may participate in activity-dependent reorganization of dendritic architecture, but via a mechanism that may be inconsistent with loss of NMDA receptor activity.
motoneuron; dendrite branching; filopodia; activity-dependent development; AP5; dominant-negative
NMDA receptor dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) are two prominent forms of synaptic plasticity, both of which are triggered by post-synaptic calcium elevation. To understand how calcium selectively stimulates two opposing processes, we developed a detailed computational model and performed simulations with different calcium input frequencies, amplitudes, and durations. We show that with a total amount of calcium ions kept constant, high frequencies of calcium pulses stimulate calmodulin more efficiently. Calcium input activates both calcineurin and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) at all frequencies, but increased frequencies shift the relative activation from calcineurin to CaMKII. Irrespective of amplitude and duration of the inputs, the total amount of calcium ions injected adjusts the sensitivity of the system to calcium input frequencies. At a given frequency, the quantity of CaMKII activated is proportional to the total amount of calcium. Thus, an input of a small amount of calcium at high frequencies can induce the same activation of CaMKII as a larger amount, at lower frequencies. Finally, the extent of activation of CaMKII signals with high calcium frequency is further controlled by other factors, including the availability of calmodulin, and by the potency of phosphatase inhibitors.
Spike timing–dependent plasticity (STDP) is a strong candidate for an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent form of synaptic plasticity that could underlie the development of receptive field properties in sensory neocortices. Whilst induction of timing-dependent long-term potentiation (t-LTP) requires postsynaptic NMDA receptors, timing-dependent long-term depression (t-LTD) requires the activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses in barrel cortex. Here we investigated the developmental profile of t-LTD at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses of mouse barrel cortex and studied their NMDA receptor subunit dependence. Timing-dependent LTD emerged in the first postnatal week, was present during the second week and disappeared in the adult, whereas t-LTP persisted in adulthood. An antagonist at GluN2C/D subunit–containing NMDA receptors blocked t-LTD but not t-LTP. Conversely, a GluN2A subunit–preferring antagonist blocked t-LTP but not t-LTD. The GluN2C/D subunit requirement for t-LTD appears to be synapse specific, as GluN2C/D antagonists did not block t-LTD at horizontal cross-columnar layer 2/3-to-layer 2/3 synapses, which was blocked by a GluN2B antagonist instead. These data demonstrate an NMDA receptor subunit-dependent double dissociation of t-LTD and t-LTP mechanisms at layer 4-to-layer 2/3 synapses, and suggest that t-LTD is mediated by distinct molecular mechanisms at different synapses on the same postsynaptic neuron.
development; LTD; LTP; rodent; synaptic plasticity
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Developmental switches in NMDA receptor subunit expression have been inferred from studies of GluN2 expression levels, changes in kinetics of glutamatergic synaptic currents and sensitivity of NMDA receptor-mediated currents to selective GluN2B antagonists. Here we use TCN 213, a novel GluN2A-selective antagonist to identify the presence of this subunit in functional NMDA receptors in developing cortical neurones.
Two-electrode voltage-clamp (TEVC) recordings were made from Xenopus laevis oocytes to determine the pharmacological activity of TCN 213 at recombinant NMDA receptors. TCN 213 antagonism was studied in cultures of primary cortical neurones, assessing the NMDA receptor dependency of NMDA-induced excitotoxicity and monitoring developmental switches in NMDA receptor subunit composition.
TCN 213 antagonism of GluN1/GluN2A NMDA receptors was dependent on glycine but independent of glutamate concentrations in external recording solutions. Antagonism by TCN 213 was surmountable and gave a Schild plot with unity slope. TCN 213 block of GluN1/GluN2B NMDA receptor-mediated currents was negligible. In cortical neurones, at a early developmental stage predominantly expressing GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors, TCN 213 failed to antagonize NMDA receptor-mediated currents or to prevent GluN2B-dependent, NMDA-induced excitoxicity. In older cultures (DIV 14) or in neurones transfected with GluN2A subunits, TCN 213 antagonized NMDA-evoked currents. Block by TCN 213 of NMDA currents inversely correlated with block by ifenprodil, a selective GluN2B antagonist.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
TCN 213 selectively blocked GluN1/GluN2A over GluN1/GluN2B NMDA receptors allowing direct dissection of functional NMDA receptors and pharmacological profiling of developmental changes in native NMDA receptor subunit composition.
NMDA; glutamate; glycine; antagonism; oocyte; two-electrode voltage clamp; electrophysiology; neurotoxicity; development
NR3A is the only NMDA receptor (NMDAR) subunit that down-regulates sharply prior to the onset of sensitive periods for plasticity, yet the functional importance of this transient expression remains largely unknown. To investigate the possibility that removal/replacement of juvenile NR3A-containing NMDARs is involved in experience-driven synapse maturation, we used a reversible transgenic system that allowed persistent NR3A expression in the postnatal forebrain. We found that removal of NR3A is required to develop strong NMDAR currents, full expression of long-term synaptic plasticity, a mature synaptic organization characterized by more synapses and larger postsynaptic densities, and the ability to form long-term memories. Deficits associated with prolonged NR3A were reversible, as late-onset suppression of transgene expression rescued both the synaptic and memory impairments. Our results suggest that NR3A behaves as a molecular brake to prevent the premature strengthening and stabilization of excitatory synapses, and that NR3A removal might thereby initiate critical stages of synapse maturation during early postnatal neural development.
NMDA receptor subunits change during development and their synaptic expression is modified rapidly after synaptic plasticity induction in hippocampal slices. However, there is scarce information on subunits expression after synaptic plasticity induction or memory acquisition, particularly in adults. GluN1, GluN2A and GluN2B NMDA receptor subunits were assessed by western blot in 1) adult rats that had explored an open field (OF) for 5 minutes, a time sufficient to induce habituation, 2) mature rat hippocampal neuron cultures depolarized by KCl and 3) hippocampal slices from adult rats where long term potentiation (LTP) was induced by theta-burst stimulation (TBS). GluN1 and GluN2A, though not GluN2B, were significantly higher 70 minutes –but not 30 minutes- after a 5 minutes session in an OF. GluN1 and GluN2A total immunofluorescence and puncta in neurites increased in cultures, as evaluated 70 minutes after KCl stimulation. Similar changes were found in hippocampal slices 70 minutes after LTP induction. To start to explore underlying mechanisms, hippocampal slices were treated either with cycloheximide (a translation inhibitor) or actinomycin D (a transcription inhibitor) during electrophysiological assays. It was corroborated that translation was necessary for LTP induction and expression. The rise in GluN1 depends on transcription and translation, while the increase in GluN2A appears to mainly depend on translation, though a contribution of some remaining transcriptional activity during actinomycin D treatment could not be rouled out. LTP effective induction was required for the subunits to increase. Although in the three models same subunits suffered modifications in the same direction, within an apparently similar temporal course, further investigation is required to reveal if they are related processes and to find out whether they are causally related with synaptic plasticity, learning and memory.
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.
Elevations of the levels of N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (NAAG) and N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) are associated with myelin loss in the leucodystrophies Canavan's disease and Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease. NAAG and NAA can activate and antagonize neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, and also act on group II metabotropic glutamate receptors. Oligodendrocytes and their precursors have recently been shown to express NMDA receptors, and activation of these receptors in ischaemia leads to the death of oligodendrocyte precursors and the loss of myelin. This raises the possibility that the failure to develop myelin, or demyelination, occurring in the leucodystrophies could reflect an action of NAAG or NAA on oligodendrocyte NMDA receptors. However, since the putative subunit composition of NMDA receptors on oligodendrocytes differs from that of neuronal NMDA receptors, the effects of NAAG and NAA on them are unknown. We show that NAAG, but not NAA, evokes an inward membrane current in cerebellar white matter oligodendrocytes, which is reduced by NMDA receptor block (but not by block of metabotropic glutamate receptors). The size of the current evoked by NAAG, relative to that evoked by NMDA, was much smaller in oligodendrocytes than in neurons, and NAAG induced a rise in [Ca2+]i in neurons but not in oligodendrocytes. These differences in the effect of NAAG on oligodendrocytes and neurons may reflect the aforementioned difference in receptor subunit composition. In addition, as a major part of the response in oligodendrocytes was blocked by tetrodotoxin (TTX), much of the NAAG-evoked current in oligodendrocytes is a secondary consequence of activating neuronal NMDA receptors. Six hours exposure to 1 mM NAAG did not lead to the death of cells in the white matter. We conclude that an action of NAAG on oligodendrocyte NMDA receptors is unlikely to be a major contributor to white matter damage in the leucodystrophies.
leucodystrophy; Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease; Canavan's disease; glutamate; NMDA
An association between age-related memory impairments and changes in functional plasticity in the aging brain has been under intense study within the last decade. In this article, we show that an impaired activation of the strychnine-insensitive glycine site of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDA-R) by its agonist d-serine contributes to deficits of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus of memory-impaired aged rats. Supplementation with exogenous d-serine prevents the age-related deficits of isolated NMDA-R-dependent synaptic potentials as well as those of theta-burst-induced long-term potentiation and synaptic depotentiation. Endogenous levels of d-serine are reduced in the hippocampus with aging, that correlates with a weaker expression of serine racemase synthesizing the amino acid. On the contrary, the affinity of d-serine binding to NMDA-R is not affected by aging. These results point to a critical role for the d-serine-dependent pathway in the functional alterations of the brain underlying memory impairment and provide key information in the search for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of memory deficits in the elderly.
memory; serine racemase; NMDA receptors; hippocampus; synaptic plasticity