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A single subanesthetic dose of ketamine, an NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, produces rapid and sustained antidepressant actions in depressed patients, addressing a major unmet need for the treatment of mood disorders. Ketamine produces a rapid increase in extracellular glutamate and synaptic formation in the prefrontal cortex, but the initial cellular trigger that initiates this increase and ketamine's behavioral actions has not been identified. To address this question, we used a combination of viral shRNA and conditional mutation to produce cell-specific knockdown or deletion of a key NMDAR subunit, GluN2B, implicated in the actions of ketamine. The results demonstrated that the antidepressant actions of ketamine were blocked by GluN2B-NMDAR knockdown on GABA (Gad1) interneurons, as well as subtypes expressing somatostatin (Sst) or parvalbumin (Pvalb), but not glutamate principle neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Further analysis of GABA subtypes showed that cell-specific knockdown or deletion of GluN2B in Sst interneurons blocked or occluded the antidepressant actions of ketamine and revealed sex-specific differences that are associated with excitatory postsynaptic currents on mPFC principle neurons. These findings demonstrate that GluN2B-NMDARs on GABA interneurons are the initial cellular trigger for the rapid antidepressant actions of ketamine and show sex-specific adaptive mechanisms to GluN2B modulation.
The role of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) as a contributor to maladaptive neuroplasticity underlying the maintenance of chronic pain is well established. Agmatine, an NMDAr antagonist, has been shown to reverse tactile hypersensitivity in rodent models of neuropathic pain while lacking the side effects characteristic of global NMDAr antagonism, including sedation and motor impairment, indicating a likely subunit specificity of agmatine's NMDAr inhibition. The present study assessed whether agmatine inhibits subunit-specific NMDAr-mediated current in the dorsal horn of mouse spinal cord slices. We isolated NMDAr-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in small lamina II dorsal horn neurons evoked by optogenetic stimulation of Na1.8-containing nociceptive afferents. We determined that agmatine abbreviated the amplitude, duration, and decay constant of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs similarly to the application of the GluN2B antagonist ifenprodil. In addition, we developed a site-specific knockdown of the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr. We assessed whether agmatine and ifenprodil were able to inhibit NMDAr-mediated current in the spinal cord dorsal horn of mice lacking the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAr by analysis of electrically evoked EPSCs. In control mouse spinal cord, agmatine and ifenprodil both inhibited amplitude and accelerated the decay kinetics. However, agmatine and ifenprodil failed to attenuate the decay kinetics of NMDAr-mediated EPSCs in the GluN2B-knockdown mouse spinal cord. The present study indicates that agmatine preferentially antagonizes GluN2B-containing NMDArs in mouse dorsal horn neurons. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our study is the first to report that agmatine preferentially antagonizes the GluN2B receptor subunit of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in spinal cord. The preferential targeting of GluN2B receptor is consistent with the pharmacological profile of agmatine in that it reduces chronic pain without the motor side effects commonly seen with non-subunit-selective NMDA receptor antagonists.
Transient upregulation of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors (R) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is proposed as an intermediate to long-term AMPAR plasticity associated with persistent cocaine-related behaviors. However, cell type- and input-specific contributions of GluN2B underlying lasting actions of cocaine remain to be elucidated. We utilized GluN2B cell type-specific knockouts and optogenetics to deconstruct the role of GluN2B in cocaine-induced NAc synaptic and behavioral plasticity. While reward learning was unaffected, loss of GluN2B in D1 dopamine receptor-expressing cells (D1) led to prolonged retention of reward memory. In control mice, prefrontal cortex (PFC)-D1(+) NAc AMPAR function was unaffected by cocaine exposure, while midline thalamus (mThal)-D1(+) NAc AMPAR function was potentiated but diminished after withdrawal. In D1-GluN2B mice, the potentiation of mThal-D1(+) NAc AMPAR function persisted following withdrawal, corresponding with continued expression of cocaine reward behavior. These data suggest NAc GluN2B-containing NMDARs serve a feedback role and may weaken reward-related memories.
Alternative gene splicing gives rise to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor ion channels with defined functional properties and unique contributions to calcium signaling in a given chemical environment in the mammalian brain. Splice variants possessing the exon-5-encoded motif at the amino-terminal domain (ATD) of the GluN1 subunit are known to display robustly altered deactivation rates and pH sensitivity, but the underlying mechanism for this functional modification is largely unknown. Here, we show through cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) that the presence of the exon 5 motif in GluN1 alters the local architecture of heterotetrameric GluN1-GluN2 NMDA receptors and creates contacts with the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) of the GluN1 and GluN2 subunits, which are absent in NMDA receptors lacking the exon 5 motif. The unique interactions established by the exon 5 motif are essential to the stability of the ATD/LBD and LBD/LBD interfaces that are critically involved in controlling proton sensitivity and deactivation.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dysregulated fear memory can lead to a broad spectrum of anxiety disorders. The brain systems underlying fear memory are manifold, with the hippocampus being prominently involved by housing fear-related spatial memories as engrams, which are created and stored through neural changes such as synaptic plasticity. Although metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors contribute significantly to both fear behavior and hippocampal synaptic plasticity, the relationship between these two phenomena has not been fully elucidated. Here, we report that contextual fear extinction induces a novel form of metaplasticity mediated by mGlu5 at the hippocampal SC-CA1 synapse. Further, blockade of mGlu5 prevents both contextual fear extinction and expression of this metaplasticity. This form of metaplasticity was absent in a mouse model of MECP2-duplication syndrome, corresponding to a complete deficit in extinction learning. These findings suggest that mGlu5-dependent metaplasticity within the hippocampus may play a critical role in extinction of contextual fear.
Selective potentiation of the mGlu subtype of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor using positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) has robust cognition-enhancing effects in rodent models that are relevant for schizophrenia. Until recently, these effects were thought to be due to potentiation of mGlu-induced modulation of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) currents and NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity. However, "biased" mGlu PAMs that do not potentiate mGlu effects on NMDAR currents show efficacy that is similar to that of prototypical mGlu PAMs, suggesting that NMDAR-independent mechanisms must be involved in these actions. We now report that synaptic activation of mGlu is required for a form of long-term depression (mLTD) in mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) that is induced by activation of M muscarinic acetylcholine (mAChR) receptors, which was previously thought to be independent of mGlu activation. Interestingly, a biased mGlu PAM, VU0409551, that does not potentiate mGlu modulation of NMDAR currents, potentiated induction of mLTD. Furthermore, coactivation of mGlu and M receptors increased GABA-dependent inhibitory tone in the PFC pyramidal neurons, which likely contributes to the observed mLTD. Finally, systemic administration of the biased mGlu PAM reversed deficits in mLTD and associated cognitive deficits in a model of cortical disruption caused by repeated phencyclidine exposure that is relevant for schizophrenia and was previously shown to be responsive to selective M muscarinic receptor PAMs. These studies provide exciting new insights into a novel mechanism by which mGlu PAMs can reverse deficits in PFC function and cognition that is independent of modulation of NMDAR currents.
Characterizing the functional impact of novel mutations linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) provides a deeper mechanistic understanding of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. Here we show that a Glu183 to Val (E183V) mutation in the CaMKIIα catalytic domain, identified in a proband diagnosed with ASD, decreases both CaMKIIα substrate phosphorylation and regulatory autophosphorylation, and that the mutated kinase acts in a dominant-negative manner to reduce CaMKIIα-WT autophosphorylation. The E183V mutation also reduces CaMKIIα binding to established ASD-linked proteins, such as Shank3 and subunits of l-type calcium channels and NMDA receptors, and increases CaMKIIα turnover in intact cells. In cultured neurons, the E183V mutation reduces CaMKIIα targeting to dendritic spines. Moreover, neuronal expression of CaMKIIα-E183V increases dendritic arborization and decreases both dendritic spine density and excitatory synaptic transmission. Mice with a knock-in CaMKIIα-E183V mutation have lower total forebrain CaMKIIα levels, with reduced targeting to synaptic subcellular fractions. The CaMKIIα-E183V mice also display aberrant behavioral phenotypes, including hyperactivity, social interaction deficits, and increased repetitive behaviors. Together, these data suggest that CaMKIIα plays a previously unappreciated role in ASD-related synaptic and behavioral phenotypes. Many autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-linked mutations disrupt the function of synaptic proteins, but no single gene accounts for >1% of total ASD cases. The molecular networks and mechanisms that couple the primary deficits caused by these individual mutations to core behavioral symptoms of ASD remain poorly understood. Here, we provide the first characterization of a mutation in the gene encoding CaMKIIα linked to a specific neuropsychiatric disorder. Our findings demonstrate that this ASD-linked mutation disrupts multiple CaMKII functions, induces synaptic deficits, and causes ASD-related behavioral alterations, providing novel insights into the synaptic mechanisms contributing to ASD.
Copyright © 2017 the authors 0270-6474/17/372217-18$15.00/0.
N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) are involved in the regulation of alcohol drinking, but the contribution of NMDAR subunits located on specific neuronal populations remains incompletely understood. The current study examined the role of GluN2B-containing NMDARs expressed on cortical principal neurons and cortical interneurons in mouse ethanol drinking. Consumption of escalating concentrations of ethanol was measured in mice with GluN2B gene deletion in either cortical principal neurons (GluN2B) or interneurons (GluN2B), using a two-bottle choice paradigm. Results showed that GluN2B, but not GluN2B, mice consumed significantly less ethanol, at relatively high concentrations, than non-mutant controls. In a second paradigm in which mice were offered a 15% ethanol concentration, without escalation, GluN2B mice were again no different from controls. These findings provide novel evidence for a contribution of interneuronal GluN2B-containing NMDARs in the regulation of ethanol drinking.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Some forms of long-term synaptic plasticity require docking of Ca/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II α (CaMKIIα) to residues 1290-1309 within the intracellular C-terminal tail of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor GluN2B subunit. The phosphorylation of Ser1303 within this region destabilizes CaMKII binding. Interestingly, Ser1303 is a substrate for CaMKII itself, as well as PKC and DAPK1, but these kinases have been reported to have contradictory effects on the activity of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors. Here, we re-assessed the effect of CaMKII on NMDA receptor desensitization in heterologous cells, as measured by the ratio of steady-state to peak currents induced during 3s agonist applications. CaMKIIα co-expression or infusion of constitutively active CaMKII limits the extent of desensitization and preserves current amplitude with repeated stimulation of recombinant GluN1A/GluN2B when examined using low intracellular chloride (Cl) levels, characteristic of neurons beyond the first postnatal week. In contrast, CaMKIIα enhances the acute rate and extent of desensitization when intracellular Cl concentrations are high. The apparent dependence of CaMKIIα effects on NMDA receptor desensitization on Cl concentrations is consistent with the presence of a Ca-activated Cl conductance endogenous to HEK 293 cells, which was confirmed by photolysis of caged-Ca. However, Ca-activated Cl conductances are unaffected by CaMKIIα expression, indicating that CaMKII affects agonist-induced whole cell currents via modulation of the NMDA receptor. In support of this idea, CaMKIIα modulation of GluN2B-NMDA receptors is abrogated by the phospho-null mutation of Ser1303 in GluN2B to alanine and occluded by phospho-mimetic mutation of Ser1303 to aspartate regardless of intracellular Cl concentration. Thus, CaMKII-mediated phosphorylation of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors reduces desensitization at physiological (low) intracellular Cl, perhaps serving as a feed-forward mechanism to sustain NMDA-mediated Ca entry and continued CaMKII activation during learning and memory.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Zinc is vastly present in the mammalian brain and controls functions of various cell surface receptors to regulate neurotransmission. A distinctive characteristic of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors containing a GluN2A subunit is that their ion channel activity is allosterically inhibited by a nano-molar concentration of zinc that binds to an extracellular domain called an amino-terminal domain (ATD). Despite physiological importance, the molecular mechanism underlying the high-affinity zinc inhibition has been incomplete because of the lack of a GluN2A ATD structure. Here we show the first crystal structures of the heterodimeric GluN1-GluN2A ATD, which provide the complete map of the high-affinity zinc-binding site and reveal distinctive features from the ATD of the GluN1-GluN2B subtype. Perturbation of hydrogen bond networks at the hinge of the GluN2A bi-lobe structure affects both zinc inhibition and open probability, supporting the general model in which the bi-lobe motion in ATD regulates the channel activity in NMDA receptors.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.