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1.  Transient Oxygen/Glucose Deprivation Causes a Delayed Loss of Mitochondria and Increases Spontaneous Calcium Signaling in Astrocytic Processes 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2016;36(27):7109-7127.
Recently, mitochondria have been localized to astrocytic processes where they shape Ca2+ signaling; this relationship has not been examined in models of ischemia/reperfusion. We biolistically transfected astrocytes in rat hippocampal slice cultures to facilitate fluorescent confocal microscopy, and subjected these slices to transient oxygen/glucose deprivation (OGD) that causes delayed excitotoxic death of CA1 pyramidal neurons. This insult caused a delayed loss of mitochondria from astrocytic processes and increased colocalization of mitochondria with the autophagosome marker LC3B. The losses of neurons in area CA1 and mitochondria in astrocytic processes were blocked by ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) antagonists, tetrodotoxin, ziconotide (Ca2+ channel blocker), two inhibitors of reversed Na+/Ca2+ exchange (KB-R7943, YM-244769), or two inhibitors of calcineurin (cyclosporin-A, FK506). The effects of OGD were mimicked by NMDA. The glutamate uptake inhibitor (3S)-3-[[3-[[4-(trifluoromethyl)benzoyl]amino]phenyl]methoxy]-l-aspartate increased neuronal loss after OGD or NMDA, and blocked the loss of astrocytic mitochondria. Exogenous glutamate in the presence of iGluR antagonists caused a loss of mitochondria without a decrease in neurons in area CA1. Using the genetic Ca2+ indicator Lck-GCaMP-6S, we observed two types of Ca2+ signals: (1) in the cytoplasm surrounding mitochondria (mitochondrially centered) and (2) traversing the space between mitochondria (extramitochondrial). The spatial spread, kinetics, and frequency of these events were different. The amplitude of both types was doubled and the spread of both types changed by ∼2-fold 24 h after OGD. Together, these data suggest that pathologic activation of glutamate transport and increased astrocytic Ca2+ through reversed Na+/Ca2+ exchange triggers mitochondrial loss and dramatic increases in Ca2+ signaling in astrocytic processes.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the brain, are vital integrators of signaling and metabolism. Each astrocyte consists of many long, thin branches, called processes, which ensheathe vasculature and thousands of synapses. Mitochondria occupy the majority of each process. This occupancy is decreased by ∼50% 24 h after an in vitro model of ischemia/reperfusion injury, due to delayed fragmentation and mitophagy. The mechanism appears to be independent of neuropathology, instead involving an extended period of high glutamate uptake into astrocytes. Our data suggest that mitochondria serve as spatial buffers, and possibly even as a source of calcium signals in astrocytic processes. Loss of mitochondria resulted in drastically altered calcium signaling that could disrupt neurovascular coupling and gliotransmission.
PMCID: PMC4938859  PMID: 27383588
astrocytes; calcium; glutamate transport; mitochondria; mitophagy; oxygen/glucose deprivation
2.  Transcription Factor Pax6 Contributes to Induction of GLT-1 Expression in Astrocytes Through an Interaction with a Distal Enhancer Element 
Journal of neurochemistry  2015;136(2):262-275.
The Na+-dependent glutamate transporter, GLT-1 (EAAT2), shows selective expression in astrocytes, and neurons induce expression of GLT-1 in astrocytes. In unpublished analyses of GLT-1 promoter reporter mice, we identified an evolutionarily conserved domain of 467 nucleotides ~8 kb upstream of the GLT-1 translation start site that is required for astrocytic expression. Using in silico approaches, we identified Pax6 as a transcription factor that could contribute to the control of GLT-1 expression by binding within this region. We demonstrated expression of Pax6 protein in astrocytes in vivo. Lentiviral transduction of astrocytes with exogenous Pax6 increased expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) in astrocytes prepared from transgenic mice that use a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) containing a large genomic region surrounding the GLT-1 gene to control expression of eGFP. It also increased GLT-1 protein, and GLT-1-mediated activity, while there was no effect on the levels of astroglial glutamate transporter, GLAST. Transduction of astrocytes with an shRNA directed against Pax6 reduced neuron-dependent induction of GLT-1 or eGFP. Finally, we confirmed Pax6 interaction with the predicted DNA binding site in electrophoretic mobility assays (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). Together, these studies show that Pax6 contributes to regulation of GLT-1 through an interaction with these distal elements and identify a novel role of Pax6 in astrocyte biology.
Graphical Abstract
The astroglial glutamate transporter, GLT-1, shows selective expression in astrocytes and its expression can be induced by neurons. In this study we demonstrate that Pax6 is expressed in astrocytes and binds to the GLT-1 promoter in vitro and in vivo. Exogenous expression of Pax6 increases GLT-1 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) expression in astrocytes from a transgenic mouse line that uses the GLT-1 gene to drive eGFP expression, and an shRNA directly against Pax6 attenuates neurondependent induction of GLT-1/eGFP. We therefore conclude that Pax6 contributes to the neuron-dependent induction of GLT-1.
PMCID: PMC4837027  PMID: 26485579
glutamate transport; Pax6; astrocytes; EAAT2; GLT-1; transcriptional regulation
3.  Displacing hexokinase from mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) impairs GLT-1-mediated glutamate uptake but does not disrupt interactions between GLT-1 and mitochondrial proteins 
Journal of neuroscience research  2014;93(7):999-1008.
The glutamate transporter GLT-1 is the major route for the clearance of extracellular glutamate in the forebrain, and most GLT-1 protein is found in astrocytes. This protein is coupled to the Na+-electrochemical gradient, supporting the active intracellular accumulation of glutamate. We recently used a proteomic approach to identify proteins that may interact with GLT-1 in rat cortex, including the Na+/K+-ATPase, most glycolytic enzymes, and several mitochondrial proteins. We also showed that most GLT-1 puncta (~70%) are overlapped by mitochondria in astroglial processes in organotypic slices. Based on this analysis, we proposed that the glycolytic enzyme hexokinase 1 (HK1) might physically form a scaffold to link GLT-1 and mitochondria because HK1 is known to interact with the outer mitochondrial membrane protein, voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC). In the present study, we first validated the interactions between HK-1, VDAC and GLT-1 using forward and reverse immunoprecipitations. We also provided evidence that a subfraction of HK1 co-localizes with GLT-1 in vivo. We found that a peptide, known to disrupt the interaction between HK and VDAC, did not disrupt interactions between GLT-1 and several mitochondrial proteins. In parallel experiments, we found that displacement of HK from VDAC reduced GLT-1-mediated glutamate uptake. These results suggest that although HK1 forms co-immunoprecipitatable complexes with both VDAC and GLT-1, it does not physically link GLT-1 to mitochondrial proteins. However, the interaction of HK1 with VDAC supports GLT-1-mediated transport activity.
PMCID: PMC4441544  PMID: 25546576
glutamate transporter; mitochondria; hexokinase
4.  Reciprocal Regulation of Mitochondrial Dynamics and Calcium Signaling in Astrocyte Processes 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(45):15199-15213.
We recently showed that inhibition of neuronal activity, glutamate uptake, or reversed-Na+/Ca2+-exchange with TTX, TFB-TBOA, or YM-244769, respectively, increases mitochondrial mobility in astrocytic processes. In the present study, we examined the interrelationships between mitochondrial mobility and Ca2+ signaling in astrocyte processes in organotypic cultures of rat hippocampus. All of the treatments that increase mitochondrial mobility decreased basal Ca2+. As recently reported, we observed spontaneous Ca2+ spikes with half-lives of ∼1 s that spread ∼6 μm and are almost abolished by a TRPA1 channel antagonist. Virtually all of these Ca2+ spikes overlap mitochondria (98%), and 62% of mitochondria are overlapped by these spikes. Although tetrodotoxin, TFB-TBOA, or YM-244769 increased Ca2+ signaling, the specific effects on peak, decay time, and/or frequency were different. To more specifically manipulate mitochondrial mobility, we explored the effects of Miro motor adaptor proteins. We show that Miro1 and Miro2 are both expressed in astrocytes and that exogenous expression of Ca2+-insensitive Miro mutants (KK) nearly doubles the percentage of mobile mitochondria. Expression of Miro1KK had a modest effect on the frequency of these Ca2+ spikes but nearly doubled the decay half-life. The mitochondrial proton ionophore, FCCP, caused a large, prolonged increase in cytosolic Ca2+ followed by an increase in the decay time and the spread of the spontaneous Ca2+ spikes. Photo-ablation of mitochondria in individual astrocyte processes has similar effects on Ca2+. Together, these studies show that Ca2+ regulates mitochondrial mobility, and mitochondria in turn regulate Ca2+ signals in astrocyte processes.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In neurons, the movement and positioning of mitochondria at sites of elevated activity are important for matching local energy and Ca2+ buffering capacity. Previously, we demonstrated that mitochondria are immobilized in astrocytes in response to neuronal activity and glutamate uptake. Here, we demonstrate a mechanism by which mitochondria are immobilized in astrocytes subsequent to increases in intracellular [Ca2+] and provide evidence that mitochondria contribute to the compartmentalization of spontaneous Ca2+ signals in astrocyte processes. Immobilization of mitochondria at sites of glutamate uptake in astrocyte processes provides a mechanism to coordinate increases in activity with increases in mitochondrial metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4642244  PMID: 26558789
astrocyte; calcium; GCaMP; glutamate transport; Miro; mitochondria
5.  Regulation of brain glutamate metabolism by nitric oxide and S-nitrosylation 
Science signaling  2015;8(384):ra68.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a signaling intermediate during glutamatergic neurotransmission in the central nervous system (CNS). NO signaling is in part accomplished through cysteine S-nitrosylation, a posttranslational modification by which NO regulates protein function and signaling. In our investigation of the protein targets and functional impact of S-nitrosylation in the CNS under physiological conditions, we identified 269 S-nitrosocysteine residues in 136 proteins in the wild-type mouse brain. The number of sites was significantly reduced in the brains of mice lacking endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS−/−) or neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS−/−). In particular, nNOS−/− animals showed decreased S-nitrosylation of proteins that participate in the glutamate/glutamine cycle, a metabolic process by which synaptic glutamate is recycled or oxidized to provide energy. 15N-glutamine–based metabolomic profiling and enzymatic activity assays indicated that brain extracts from nNOS−/− mice converted less glutamate to glutamine and oxidized more glutamate than those from mice of the other genotypes. GLT1 [also known as EAAT2 (excitatory amino acid transporter 2)], a glutamate transporter in astrocytes, was S-nitrosylated at Cys373 and Cys561 in wild-type and eNOS−/− mice, but not in nNOS−/− mice. A form of rat GLT1 that could not be S-nitrosylated at the equivalent sites had increased glutamate uptake compared to wild-type GLT1 in cells exposed to an S-nitrosylating agent. Thus, NO modulates glutamatergic neurotransmission through the selective, nNOS-dependent S-nitrosylation of proteins that govern glutamate transport and metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4746709  PMID: 26152695
6.  Genetic Deletion of the Neuronal Glutamate Transporter, EAAC1, Results in Decreased Neuronal Death after Pilocarpine-Induced Status Epilepticus 
Excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1, also called EAAT3) is a Na+-dependent glutamate transporter expressed by both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons. It provides precursors for the syntheses of glutathione and GABA and contributes to the clearance of synaptically released glutamate. Mice deleted of EAAC1 are more susceptible to neurodegeneration in models of ischemia, Parkinson’s disease, and aging. Antisense knock-down of EAAC1 causes an absence seizure-like phenotype. Additionally, EAAC1 expression increases after chemonvulsant-induced seizures in rodent models and in tissue specimens from patients with refractory epilepsy. The goal of the present study was to determine if the absence of EAAC1 affects the sensitivity of mice to seizure-induced cell death. A chemoconvulsant dose of pilocarpine was administered to EAAC1−/− mice and to wild-type controls. Although EAAC1−/− mice experienced increased latency to seizure onset, no significant differences in behavioral seizure severity or mortality were observed. We examined EAAC1 immunofluorescence 24 hours after pilocarpine administration and confirmed that pilocarpine causes an increase in EAAC1 protein. Forty-eight hours after induction of seizures, cell death was measured in hippocampus and in cortex using Fluoro-Jade C. Surprisingly, there was ~2-fold more cell death in area CA1 of wild-type mice than in the corresponding regions of the EAAC1−/− mice. Together, these studies indicate that absence of EAAC1 results in either a decrease in pilocarpine-induced seizures that is not detectable by behavioral criteria (surprising, since EAAC1 provides glutamate for GABA synthesis), or that the absence of EAAC1 results in less pilocarpine/seizure-induced cell death, possible explanations as discussed.
PMCID: PMC4055553  PMID: 24334055
glutamate transport; EAAC1; EAAT3; seizure; cell death; pilocarpine
7.  The Endoplasmic Reticulum Exit of Glutamate Transporter Is Regulated by the Inducible Mammalian Yip6b/GTRAP3-18 Protein*Ⓢ 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;283(10):6175-6183.
GTRAP3-18 interacts with and reduces the activity of the neuronal specific Na+/K+ glutamate transporter, EAAC1 both in vitro and in vivo. GTRAP3-18 and the related isoform, JM4, are distant relatives of the Rab GTPase-interacting factor PRA1, and share a topology of four transmembrane domains and cytosolic termini. GTRAP3-18 and JM4 are resident endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteins. The physiological role of GTRAP3-18 is poorly understood. We demonstrate for the first time that GTRAP3-18 is a regulator of ER protein trafficking. Expression of GTRAP3-18 delays the ER exit of EAAC1, as well as other members of the excitatory amino acid transporter family. GTRAP3-18 uses hydrophobic domain interactions in the ER membrane to self-associate and cytoplasmic interactions at the C terminus to regulate trafficking. The features of GTRAP3-18 activity are consistent with recent phylogenic sequence analyses suggesting GTRAP3-18 and JM4 be reclassified as mammalian isoforms of the yeast protein family Yip, Yip6b, and Yip6a, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4502942  PMID: 18167356
8.  Neuronal Activity and Glutamate Uptake Decrease Mitochondrial Mobility in Astrocytes and Position Mitochondria Near Glutamate Transporters 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(5):1613-1624.
Within neurons, mitochondria are nonuniformly distributed and are retained at sites of high activity and metabolic demand. Glutamate transport and the concomitant activation of the Na+/K+-ATPase represent a substantial energetic demand on astrocytes. We hypothesized that mitochondrial mobility within astrocytic processes might be regulated by neuronal activity and glutamate transport. We imaged organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of rat, in which astrocytes maintain their highly branched morphologies and express glutamate transporters. Using time-lapse confocal microscopy, the mobility of mitochondria within individual astrocytic processes and neuronal dendrites was tracked. Within neurons, a greater percentage of mitochondria were mobile than in astrocytes. Furthermore, they moved faster and farther than in astrocytes. Inhibiting neuronal activity with tetrodotoxin (TTX) increased the percentage of mobile mitochondria in astrocytes. Mitochondrial movement in astrocytes was inhibited by vinblastine and cytochalasin D, demonstrating that this mobility depends on both the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons. Inhibition of glutamate transport tripled the percentage of mobile mitochondria in astrocytes. Conversely, application of the transporter substrate d-aspartate reversed the TTX-induced increase in the percentage of mobile mitochondria. Inhibition of reversed Na+/Ca2+ exchange also increased the percentage of mitochondria that were mobile. Last, we demonstrated that neuronal activity increases the probability that mitochondria appose GLT-1 particles within astrocyte processes, without changing the proximity of GLT-1 particles to VGLUT1. These results imply that neuronal activity and the resulting clearance of glutamate by astrocytes regulate the movement of astrocytic mitochondria and suggest a mechanism by which glutamate transporters might retain mitochondria at sites of glutamate uptake.
PMCID: PMC3905137  PMID: 24478345
astrocyte; GLT-1; glutamate; mitochondria; mobility; transporter
9.  The glutamate transporter, GLAST, participates in a macromolecular complex that supports glutamate metabolism 
Neurochemistry international  2012;61(4):566-574.
GLAST is the predominant glutamate transporter in the cerebellum and contributes substantially to glutamate transport in forebrain. This astroglial glutamate transporter quickly binds and clears synaptically released glutamate and is principally responsible for ensuring that synaptic glutamate concentrations remain low. This process is associated with a significant energetic cost. Compartmentalization of GLAST with mitochondria and proteins involved in energy metabolism could provide energetic support for glutamate transport. Therefore, we performed immunoprecipitation and co-localization experiments to determine if GLAST might co-compartmentalize with proteins involved in energy metabolism. GLAST was immunoprecipitated from rat cerebellum and subunits of the Na+/K+ ATPase, glycolytic enzymes, and mitochondrial proteins were detected. GLAST co-localized with mitochondria in cerebellar tissue. GLAST also co-localized with mitochondria in fine processes of astrocytes in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. From these data, we hypothesized that mitochondria participate in a macromolecular complex with GLAST to support oxidative metabolism of transported glutamate. To determine the functional metabolic role of this complex, we measured CO2 production from radiolabeled glutamate in cultured astrocytes and compared it to overall glutamate uptake. Within 15 minutes, 9% of transported glutamate was converted to CO2. This CO2 production was blocked by inhibitors of glutamate transport and glutamate dehydrogenase, but not by an inhibitor of glutamine synthetase. Our data support a model in which GLAST exists in a macromolecular complex that allows transported glutamate to be metabolized in mitochondria to support energy production.
PMCID: PMC3350823  PMID: 22306776
Mitochondria; astrocyte; EAAT1; Na+/K+ ATPase; cerebellum
10.  mRNA for the EAAC1 Subtype of Glutamate Transporter is Present in Neuronal Dendrites In Vitro and Dramatically Increases In Vivo After a Seizure 
Neurochemistry international  2010;58(3):366-375.
The neuronal Na+-dependent glutamate transporter, excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1, also called EAAT3), has been implicated in the control of synaptic spillover of glutamate, synaptic plasticity, and the import of cysteine for neuronal synthesis of glutathione. EAAC1 protein is observed in both perisynaptic regions of the synapse and in neuronal cell bodies. Although amino acid residues in the carboxyl terminal tail have been implicated in the dendritic targeting of EAAC1 protein, it is not known if mRNA for EAAC1 may also be targeted to dendrites. Sorting of mRNA to specific cellular domains provides a mechanism by which signals can rapidly increase translation in a local environment; this form of regulated translation has been linked to diverse biological phenomena ranging from establishment of polarity during embryogenesis to synapse development and synaptic plasticity. In the present study, EAAC1 mRNA sequences were amplified from dendritic samples that were mechanically harvested from low-density hippocampal neuronal cultures. In parallel analyses, mRNA for histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC-2) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was not detected, suggesting that these samples are not contaminated with cell body or glial mRNAs. EAAC1 mRNA also co-localized with Map2a (a marker of dendrites) but not Tau1 (a marker of axons) in hippocampal neuronal cultures by in situ hybridization. In control rats, EAAC1 mRNA was observed in soma and proximal dendrites of hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Following pilocarpine- or kainate-induced seizures, EAAC1 mRNA was present in CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites up to 200 μm from the soma. These studies provide the first evidence that EAAC1 mRNA localizes to dendrites and suggest that dendritic targeting of EAAC1 mRNA is increased by seizure activity and may be regulated by neuronal activity/depolarization.
PMCID: PMC3040252  PMID: 21185901
glutamate transport; EAAC1; EAAT3; epilepsy; pilocarpine; seizure; mRNA targeting
11.  Inhibitors of Glutamate Dehydrogenase Block Sodium-Dependent Glutamate Uptake in Rat Brain Membranes 
We recently found evidence for anatomic and physical linkages between the astroglial Na+-dependent glutamate transporters (GLT-1/EAAT2 and GLAST/EAAT1) and mitochondria. In these same studies, we found that the glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) inhibitor, epigallocatechin-monogallate (EGCG), inhibits both glutamate oxidation and Na+-dependent glutamate uptake in astrocytes. In the present study, we extend this finding by exploring the effects of EGCG on Na+-dependent l-[3H]-glutamate (Glu) uptake in crude membranes (P2) prepared from rat brain cortex. In this preparation, uptake is almost exclusively mediated by GLT-1. EGCG inhibited l-[3H]-Glu uptake in cortical membranes with an IC50 value of 230 μM. We also studied the effects of two additional inhibitors of GDH, hexachlorophene (HCP) and bithionol (BTH). Both of these compounds also caused concentration-dependent inhibition of glutamate uptake in cortical membranes. Pre-incubating with HCP for up to 15 min had no greater effect than that observed with no pre-incubation, showing that the effects occur rapidly. HCP decreased the Vmax for glutamate uptake without changing the Km, consistent with a non-competitive mechanism of action. EGCG, HCP, and BTH also inhibited Na+-dependent transport of d-[3H]-aspartate (Asp), a non-metabolizable transporter substrate, and [3H]-γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In contrast to the forebrain, glutamate uptake in crude cerebellar membranes (P2) is likely mediated by GLAST (EAAT1). Therefore, the effects of these compounds were examined in cerebellar membranes. In this region, none of these compounds had any effect on uptake of either l-[3H]-Glu or d-[3H]-Asp, but they all inhibited [3H]-GABA uptake. Together these studies suggest that GDH is preferentially required for glutamate uptake in forebrain as compared to cerebellum, and GDH may be required for GABA uptake as well. They also provide further evidence for a functional linkage between glutamate transport and mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC3775299  PMID: 24062726
glutamate; GLT-1; EAAT2; GLAST; GABA; glutamate dehydrogenase; sodium-dependent uptake; epigallocatechin-monogallate
12.  Co-Compartmentalization of the Astroglial Glutamate Transporter, GLT-1, with Glycolytic Enzymes and Mitochondria 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2011;31(50):18275-18288.
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.
PMCID: PMC3259858  PMID: 22171032
glutamate transport; GLT-1; mitochondria; glycolysis
13.  Group I mGluR-Regulated Translation of the Neuronal Glutamate Transporter, Excitatory Amino Acid Carrier 1 (EAAC1) 
Journal of neurochemistry  2011;117(5):812-823.
Recently, we demonstrated that mRNA for the neuronal glutamate transporter, excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1), is found in dendrites of hippocampal neurons in culture and in dendrites of hippocampal pyramidal cells after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE). We also showed that SE increased the levels of EAAC1 mRNA ~15-fold in synaptoneurosomes. In the present study, the effects of SE on the distribution EAAC1 protein in hippocampus were examined. In addition, the effects of Group 1 mGluR receptor activation on the levels of EAAC1 protein were examined in synaptoneurosomes prepared from sham control animals and from animals that experience pilocarpine-induced SE. We find that EAAC1 immunoreactivity increases in pyramidal cells of the hippocampus after 3 h of SE. In addition, the group I mGluR agonist, (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG), caused an increase in EAAC1 protein levels in hippocampal synaptoneurosomes; this effect of DHPG was much larger (~3- to 5-fold) after 3 h of SE. The DHPG-induced increases in EAAC1 protein were blocked by two different inhibitors of translation but not by inhibitors of transcription. mGluR1 or mGluR5 antagonists completely blocked the DHPG-induced increases in EAAC1 protein. DHPG also increased the levels of GluR2/3 protein, but this effect was not altered by SE. The DHPG-induced increase in EAAC1 protein was blocked by an inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) or an inhibitor of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). These studies provide the first evidence EAAC1 translation can be regulated, and they show that regulated translation of EAAC1 is up-regulated after SE.
PMCID: PMC3088777  PMID: 21371038
glutamate transport; EAAC1; epilepsy; pilocarpine; seizure; mGluR; dendritic targeting
14.  Nuclear Factor-κB Contributes to Neuron-Dependent Induction of GLT-1 Expression in Astrocytes 
The GLT-1 (EAAT2) subtype of glutamate transporter ensures crisp excitatory signaling and limits excitotoxicity in the CNS. Astrocytic expression of GLT-1 is regulated during development, by neuronal activity, and in neurodegenerative diseases. Although neurons activate astrocytic expression of GLT-1, the mechanisms involved have not been identified. In the present study, astrocytes from transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) containing a very large region of DNA surrounding the GLT-1 gene (BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice) were used to assess the role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in neuron-dependent activation of the GLT-1 promoter. We provide evidence that neurons activate NF-κB signaling in astrocytes. Transduction of astrocytes from the BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice with dominant-negative inhibitors of NF-κB signaling completely blocked neuron-dependent activation of a NF-κB reporter construct and attenuated induction of eGFP. Exogenous expression of p65 and/or p50 NF-κB subunits induced expression of eGFP or GLT-1 and increased GLT-1-mediated transport activity. Using wild type and mutant GLT-1 promoter reporter constructs, we found that NF-κB sites at −583 or −251 relative to the transcription start site eliminated neuron-dependent reporter activation. Electrophoretic mobility shift and supershift assays reveal that p65 and p50 interact with these same sites ex vivo. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) showed that p65 and p50 interact with these sites in adult cortex, but not in kidney (a tissue that expresses no detectable GLT-1). Together, these studies strongly suggest that NF-κB contributes to neuron-dependent regulation of astrocytic GLT-1 transcription.
PMCID: PMC3138498  PMID: 21697367
glutamate transport; NF-κB; astrocytes; p65; p50; EAAT2; GLT-1; IκBα
Neurochemistry international  2008;53(6-8):296-308.
Sodium-dependent glutamate uptake is essential for limiting excitotoxicity, and dysregulation of this process has been implicated in a wide array of neurological disorders. The majority of forebrain glutamate uptake is mediated by the astroglial glutamate transporter, GLT-1. We and others have shown that this transporter undergoes endocytosis and degradation in response to activation of protein kinase C (PKC), however, the mechanisms involved remain unclear. In the current study, transfected C6 glioma cells or primary cortical cultures were used to show that PKC activation results in incorporation of ubiquitin into GLT-1 immunoprecipitates. Mutation of all 11 lysine residues in the amino and carboxyl-terminal domains to arginine (11R) abolished this signal. Selective mutation of the 7 lysine residues in the carboxyl terminus (C7K-R) did not eliminate ubiquitination, but it completely blocked PKC-dependent internalization and degradation. Two families of variants of GLT-1 were prepared with various lysine residues mutated to Arginine. Analyses of these constructs indicated that redundant lysine residues in the carboxyl terminus were sufficient for the appearance of ubiquitinated product and degradation of GLT-1. Together these data define a novel mechanism by which the predominant forebrain glutamate transporter can be rapidly targeted for degradation.
PMCID: PMC2629405  PMID: 18805448
GLT-1; endocytosis; protein kinase C; sodium-dependent; ubiquitin; uptake
Neurochemistry international  2007;52(4-5):709-722.
Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) decreases the activity and cell surface expression of the predominant forebrain glutamate transporter, GLT-1. In the present study, C6 glioma were used as a model system to define the mechanisms that contribute to this decrease in cell surface expression and to determine the fate of internalized transporter. As was previously observed, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) caused a decrease in biotinylated GLT-1. This effect was blocked by sucrose or by co-expression with a dominant-negative variant of dynamin 1, and it was attenuated by co-expression with a dominant-negative variant of the clathrin heavy chain. Depletion of cholesterol with methyl-β-cyclodextrin, co-expression with a dominant-negative caveolin-1 mutant (Cav1/S80E), co-expression with dominant-negative variants of Eps15 (epidermal-growth-factor receptor pathway substrate clone 15), or co-expression with dominant-negative Arf6 (T27N) had no effect on the PMA-induced loss of biotinylated GLT-1. Long-term treatment with PMA caused a time-dependent loss of biotinylated GLT-1 and decreased the levels of GLT-1 protein. Inhibitors of lysosomal degradation (chloroquine or ammonium chloride) or co-expression with a dominant-negative variant of a small GTPase implicated in trafficking to lysosomes (Rab7) prevented the PMA-induced decrease in protein and caused an intracellular accumulation of GLT-1. These results suggest that the PKC-induced redistribution of GLT-1 is dependent upon clathrin-mediated endocytosis. These studies identify a novel mechanism by which the levels of GLT-1 could be rapidly down-regulated via lysosomal degradation. The possibility that this mechanism may contribute to the loss of GLT-1 observed after acute insults to the CNS is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2292111  PMID: 17919781
17.  The Role of Glutamate Transporters in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Potential Opportunities for Intervention 
Neurochemistry international  2007;51(6-7):333-355.
Extracellular concentrations of the predominant excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, and related excitatory amino acids are maintained at relatively low levels to ensure an appropriate signal-to-noise ratio and to prevent excessive activation of glutamate receptors that can result in cell death. The later phenomenon is known as ‘excitotoxicity’ and has been associated with a wide range of acute and chronic neurodegenerative disorders, as well as disorders that result in the loss of non-neural cells such as oligodendroglia in multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately clinical trials with glutamate receptor antagonists that would logically seem to prevent the effects of excessive receptor activation have been associated with untoward side effects or little clinical benefit. In the mammalian CNS, the extracellular concentrations of glutamate are controlled by two transporters; these include a family of Na+-dependent transporters and a cystine-glutamate exchange process, referred to as system Xc−. In this review, we will focus primarily on the Na+-dependent transporters. A brief introduction to glutamate as a neurotransmitter will be followed by an overview of the properties of these transporters, including a summary of the presumed physiologic mechanisms that regulate these transporters. Many studies have provided compelling evidence that impairing the function of these transporters can increase the sensitivity of tissue to deleterious effects of aberrant activation of glutamate receptors. Over the last decade, it has become clear that many neurodegenerative disorders are associated with a change in localization and/or expression of some of the subtypes of these transporters. This would suggest that therapies directed toward enhancing transporter expression might be beneficial. However, there is also evidence that glutamate transporters might increase the susceptibility of tissue to the consequences of insults that result in a collapse of the electrochemical gradients required for normal function such as stroke. In spite of the potential adverse effects of upregulation of glutamate transporters, there is recent evidence that up-regulation of one of the glutamate transporters, GLT-1 (also called EAAT2), with β-lactam antibiotics attenuates the damage observed in models of both acute and chronic neurodegenerative disorders. While it seems somewhat unlikely that antibiotics specifically target GLT-1 expression, these studies identify a potential strategy to limit excitotoxicity. If successful, this type of approach could have widespread utility given the large number of neurodegenerative diseases associated with decreases in transporter expression and excitotoxicity. However, given the massive effort directed at developing glutamate receptor agents during the 1990s and the relatively modest advances to date, one wonders if we will maintain the patience needed to carefully understand the glutamatergic system so that it will be successfully targeted in the future.
PMCID: PMC2075474  PMID: 17517448
18.  Use of cumulative mortality data in patients with acute myocardial infarction for early detection of variation in clinical practice: observational study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7308):324-327.
Use of cumulative mortality adjusted for case mix in patients with acute myocardial infarction for early detection of variation in clinical practice.
Observational study.
20 hospitals across the former Yorkshire region.
All 2153 consecutive patients with confirmed acute myocardial infarction identified during three months.
Main outcome measures
Variable life-adjusted displays showing cumulative differences between observed and expected mortality of patients; expected mortality calculated from risk model based on admission characteristics of age, heart rate, and systolic blood pressure.
The performance of two individual hospitals over three months was examined as an example. One, the smallest district hospital in the region, had a series of 30 consecutive patients but had five more deaths than predicted. The variable life-adjusted display showed minimal variation from that predicted for the first 15 patients followed by a run of unexpectedly high mortality. The second example was the main tertiary referral centre for the region, which admitted 188 consecutive patients. The display showed a period of apparently poor performance followed by substantial improvement, where the plot rose steadily from a cumulative net lives saved of −4 to 7. These variations in patient outcome are unlikely to have been revealed during conventional audit practice.
Variable life-adjusted display has been integrated into surgical care as a graphical display of risk-adjusted survival for individual surgeons or centres. In combination with a simple risk model, it may have a role in monitoring performance and outcome in patients with acute myocardial infarction.
What is already known on this topicThe national service framework for coronary artery disease requires minimal standards of care and audit of patients with acute myocardial infarction but does not integrate clinical status into the audit toolPredictive models using only a few factors to adjust for case mix are easy to use and may be as accurate as more complicated methodsEarly identification of variations in patient outcome is not revealed by block audit, and, instead, a continuous monitoring process is requiredWhat this study addsUsing just patients' age, blood pressure, and heart rate to adjust for case mix, a continuous plot can be derived to compare observed and expected outcome for patients with acute myocardial infarctionThis method of monitoring outcome over time can be used as an early warning system to allow more detailed audit to be performed
PMCID: PMC37321  PMID: 11498491
19.  Pre-synaptic regulation of astroglial excitatory neurotransmitter transporter GLT1 
Neuron  2009;61(6):880-894.
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.
PMCID: PMC2743171  PMID: 19323997
20.  Epigenetic Regulation of Neuron-Dependent Induction of Astroglial Synaptic Protein GLT1 
Glia  2010;58(3):277-286.
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.
PMCID: PMC2794958  PMID: 19672971
epigenetic; astrocyte; GLT1
21.  Increased Expression of the Neuronal Glutamate Transporter (EAAT3/EAAC1) in Hippocampal and Neocortical Epilepsy 
Epilepsia  2002;43(3):211-218.
To define the changes in gene and protein expression of the neuronal glutamate transporter (EAAT3/EAAC1) in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy as well as in human hippocampal and neocortical epilepsy.
The expression of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA was measured by reverse Northern blotting in single dissociated hippocampal dentate granule cells from rats with pilocarpine-induced temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and age-matched controls, in dentate granule cells from hippocampal surgical specimens from patients with TLE, and in dysplastic neurons microdissected from human focal cortical dysplasia specimens. Immunolabeling of rat and human hippocampi and cortical dysplasia tissue with EAAT3/EAAC1 antibodies served to corroborate the mRNA expression analysis.
The expression of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA was increased by nearly threefold in dentate granule cells from rats with spontaneous seizures compared with dentate granule cells from control rats. EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA levels also were high in human dentate granule cells from patients with TLE and were significantly elevated in dysplastic neurons in cortical dysplasia compared with nondysplastic neurons from postmortem control tissue. No difference in expression of another glutamate transporter, EAAT2/GLT-1, was observed. Immunolabeling demonstrated that EAAT3/EAAC1 protein expression was enhanced in dentate granule cells from both rats and humans with TLE as well as in dysplastic neurons from human cortical dysplasia tissue.
Elevations of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA and protein levels are present in neurons from hippocampus and neocortex in both rats and humans with epilepsy. Upregulation of EAAT3/EAAC1 in hippocampal and neocortical epilepsy may be an important modulator of extracellular glutamate concentrations and may occur as a response to recurrent seizures in these cell types.
PMCID: PMC2441873  PMID: 11906504
Glutamate transporter; EAAT3/EAAC1; Epilepsy; Dentate; Dysplasia

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