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In the brain, AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) form complexes with their auxiliary subunits and mediate the majority of fast excitatory neurotransmission. Signals transduced by these complexes are critical for synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. The two major categories of AMPAR auxiliary subunits are transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs) and cornichon homologs (CNIHs); these subunits share little homology and play distinct roles in controlling ion channel gating and trafficking of AMPAR. Here, I report high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structures of AMPAR in complex with CNIH3. Contrary to its predicted membrane topology, CNIH3 lacks an extracellular domain and instead contains four membrane-spanning helices. The protein-protein interaction interface that dictates channel modulation and the lipids surrounding the complex are revealed. These structures provide insights into the molecular mechanism for ion channel modulation and assembly of AMPAR/CNIH3 complexes.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Current efforts to repair damaged or diseased mammalian retinas are inefficient and largely incapable of fully restoring vision. Conversely, the zebrafish retina is capable of spontaneous regeneration upon damage using Müller glia (MG)-derived progenitors. Understanding how zebrafish MG initiate regeneration may help develop new treatments that prompt mammalian retinas to regenerate. We show that inhibition of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signaling facilitates initiation of MG proliferation. GABA levels decrease following damage, and MG are positioned to detect decreased ambient levels and undergo dedifferentiation. Using pharmacological and genetic approaches, we demonstrate that GABA receptor inhibition stimulates regeneration in undamaged retinas while activation inhibits regeneration in damaged retinas.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) family members are integrated into supramolecular complexes that modulate their location and function at excitatory synapses. However, a lack of structural information beyond isolated receptors or fragments thereof currently limits the mechanistic understanding of physiological iGluR signaling. Here, we report structural and functional analyses of the prototypical molecular bridge linking postsynaptic iGluR δ2 (GluD2) and presynaptic β-neurexin 1 (β-NRX1) via Cbln1, a C1q-like synaptic organizer. We show how Cbln1 hexamers "anchor" GluD2 amino-terminal domain dimers to monomeric β-NRX1. This arrangement promotes synaptogenesis and is essential for D: -serine-dependent GluD2 signaling in vivo, which underlies long-term depression of cerebellar parallel fiber-Purkinje cell (PF-PC) synapses and motor coordination in developing mice. These results lead to a model where protein and small-molecule ligands synergistically control synaptic iGluR function.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Calcium signaling regulates synaptic plasticity and many other functions in striatal medium spiny neurons to modulate basal ganglia function. Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is a major calcium-dependent signaling protein that couples calcium entry to diverse cellular changes. CaMKII activation results in autophosphorylation at Thr286 and sustained calcium-independent CaMKII activity after calcium signals dissipate. However, little is known about the mechanisms regulating striatal CaMKII. To address this, mouse brain slices were treated with pharmacological modulators of calcium channels and punches of dorsal striatum were immunoblotted for CaMKII Thr286 autophosphorylation as an index of CaMKII activation. KCl depolarization increased levels of CaMKII autophosphorylation ~2-fold; this increase was blocked by an LTCC antagonist and was mimicked by treatment with pharmacological LTCC activators. The chelation of extracellular calcium robustly decreased basal CaMKII autophosphorylation within 5min and increased levels of total CaMKII in cytosolic fractions, in addition to decreasing the phosphorylation of CaMKII sites in the GluN2B subunit of NMDA receptors and the GluA1 subunit of AMPA receptors. We also found that the maintenance of basal levels of CaMKII autophosphorylation requires low-voltage gated T-type calcium channels, but not LTCCs or R-type calcium channels. Our findings indicate that CaMKII activity is dynamically regulated by multiple calcium channels in the striatum thus coupling calcium entry to key downstream substrates.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lethal Giant Larvae (LGL) is a cytosolic cell polarity scaffold whose loss dominantly enhances neuromuscular junction (NMJ) synaptic overgrowth caused by loss of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP). However, direct roles for LGL in NMJ morphological and functional development have not before been tested. Here, we use confocal imaging and two-electrode voltage-clamp electrophysiology at the Drosophila larval NMJ to define the synaptic requirements of LGL. We find that LGL is expressed both pre- and postsynaptically, where the scaffold localizes at the membrane on both sides of the synaptic interface. We show that LGL has a cell autonomous presynaptic role facilitating NMJ terminal branching and synaptic bouton formation. Moreover, loss of both pre- and postsynaptic LGL strongly decreases evoked neurotransmission strength, whereas the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous synaptic vesicle fusion events is increased. Cell-targeted RNAi and rescue reveals separable pre- and postsynaptic LGL roles mediating neurotransmission. We show that presynaptic LGL facilitates the assembly of active zone vesicle fusion sites, and that neuronally targeted rescue of LGL is sufficient to ameliorate increased synaptic vesicle cycling imaged with FM1-43 dye labeling. Postsynaptically, we show that loss of LGL results in a net increase in total glutamate receptor (GluR) expression, associated with the selective elevation of GluRIIB subunit-containing receptors. Taken together, these data indicate that the presynaptic LGL scaffold facilitates the assembly of active zone fusion sites to regulate synaptic vesicle cycling, and that the postsynaptic LGL scaffold modulates glutamate receptor composition and function.
Distinct physiological stimuli are required for bidirectional synaptic plasticity in striatum and hippocampus, but differences in the underlying signaling mechanisms are poorly understood. We have begun to compare levels and interactions of key excitatory synaptic proteins in whole extracts and subcellular fractions isolated from micro-dissected striatum and hippocampus. Levels of multiple glutamate receptor subunits, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), a highly abundant serine/threonine kinase, and spinophilin, a F-actin and protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) binding protein, were significantly lower in striatal extracts, as well as in synaptic and/or extrasynaptic fractions, compared with similar hippocampal extracts/fractions. However, CaMKII interactions with spinophilin were more robust in striatum compared with hippocampus, and this enhanced association was restricted to the extrasynaptic fraction. NMDAR GluN2B subunits associate with both spinophilin and CaMKII, but spinophilin-GluN2B complexes were enriched in extrasynaptic fractions whereas CaMKII-GluN2B complexes were enriched in synaptic fractions. Notably, the association of GluN2B with both CaMKII and spinophilin was more robust in striatal extrasynaptic fractions compared with hippocampal extrasynaptic fractions. Selective differences in the assembly of synaptic and extrasynaptic signaling complexes may contribute to differential physiological regulation of excitatory transmission in striatum and hippocampus.
© 2012 International Society for Neurochemistry.
In the developing brain, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are involved in cell survival, targeting, formation of neural and sensory circuits, and development and maturation of other neurotransmitter systems. This regulatory role is disrupted when the developing brain is exposed to nicotine, which occurs with tobacco use during pregnancy. Prenatal nicotine exposure has been shown to be a strong risk factor for memory deficits and other behavioral aberrations in the offspring. The molecular mechanisms underlying these neurobehavioral outcomes are not clearly elucidated. We used a rodent model to assess behavioral, neurophysiological, and neurochemical consequences of prenatal nicotine exposure in rat offspring with specific emphasis on the hippocampal glutamatergic system. Pregnant dams were infused with nicotine (6 mg/kg/day) subcutaneously from the third day of pregnancy until birth. Results indicate that prenatal nicotine exposure leads to increased anxiety and depressive-like effects and impaired spatial memory. Synaptic plasticity in the form of long-term potentiation (LTP), basal synaptic transmission, and AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic currents were reduced. The deficit in synaptic plasticity was paralleled by declines in protein levels of vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1), synaptophysin, AMPA receptor subunit GluR1, phospho(Ser845) GluR1, and postsynaptic density 95 (PSD-95). These results suggest that prenatal nicotine exposure by maternal smoking could result in alterations in the glutamatergic system in the hippocampus contributing to the abnormal neurobehavioral outcomes.
© Springer Basel AG 2011
To better understand the role of insulin signaling in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD), we utilized an animal model (intracerebroventricular injection of streptozotocin-ic-streptozotocin (STZ)) that displays insulin resistance only in the brain and exhibits AD pathology. In this model, deficits in hippocampal synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation (LTP) were observed. The decline in LTP correlated with decreased expression of NMDAR subunits NR2A and NR2B. The deficits in LTP were accompanied by changes in the expression and function of synaptic AMPARs. In ic-STZ animals, an alteration in integrin-linked kinase (ILK)-glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK-3-β) signaling was identified (p < 0.05). Similarly, there was decreased expression (p < 0.05) of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and stargazin, an AMPAR auxiliary subunit; both are required for driving AMPA receptors to the surface of the postsynaptic membrane. Our data illustrate that altered ILK-GSK-3β signaling due to impaired insulin signaling may decrease the trafficking and function of postsynaptic glutamate receptors; thereby, leading to synaptic deficits contributing to memory loss.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dendritic spines are small actin-rich structures that receive the majority of excitatory synaptic input in the brain. The actin-based dynamics of spines are thought to mediate synaptic plasticity, which underlies cognitive processes, such as learning and memory. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate actin dynamics in spines and synapses. In this study we show the multifunctional actin-binding protein vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) regulates the density, size, and morphology of dendritic spines by inducing actin assembly in these structures. Knockdown of endogenous VASP by siRNA led to a significant decrease in the density of spines and synapses, whereas expression of siRNA-resistant VASP rescued this defect. The ability of VASP to modulate spine and synapse formation, maturation, and spine head enlargement is dependent on its actin binding Ena/VASP homology 2 (EVH2) domain and its EVH1 domain, which contributes to VASP localization to actin-rich structures. Moreover, VASP increases the amount of PSD-scaffolding proteins and the number of surface GluR1-containing α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPARs) in spines. VASP knockdown results in a reduction in surface AMPAR density, suggesting a role for this protein in regulating synaptic strength. Consistent with this, VASP significantly enhances the retention of GluR1 in spines as determined by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and increases AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission. Collectively, our results suggest that actin polymerization and bundling by VASP are critical for spine formation, expansion, and modulating synaptic strength.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor symptoms including tremor and bradykinesia. The primary pathophysiology underlying PD is the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta. Loss of these neurons causes pathological changes in neurotransmission in the basal ganglia motor circuit. The ability of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors to modulate neurotransmission throughout the basal ganglia suggests that these receptors may be targets for reversing the effects of altered neurotransmission in PD. Studies in animal models suggest that modulating the activity of these receptors may alleviate the primary motor symptoms of PD as well as side effects induced by dopamine replacement therapy. Moreover, glutamate receptor ligands may slow disease progression by delaying progressive dopamine neuron degeneration. Antagonists of NMDA receptors have shown promise in reversing motor symptoms, levodopa-induced dyskinesias, and neurodegeneration in preclinical PD models. The effects of drugs targeting AMPA receptors are more complex; while antagonists of these receptors exhibit utility in the treatment of levodopa-induced dyskinesias, AMPA receptor potentiators show promise for neuroprotection. Pharmacological modulation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) may hold even more promise for PD treatment due to the ability of mGluRs to fine-tune neurotransmission. Antagonists of mGluR5, as well as activators of group II mGluRs and mGluR4, have shown promise in several animal models of PD. These drugs reverse motor deficits in addition to providing protection against neurodegeneration. Glutamate receptors therefore represent exciting targets for the development of novel pharmacological therapies for PD.