The proper regulation of translation is required for the expression of long-lasting synaptic plasticity. A major site of translational control involves the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 ? (eIF2?) by PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase (PERK). To determine the role of PERK in hippocampal synaptic plasticity, we used the Cre-lox expression system to selectively disrupt PERK expression in the adult mouse forebrain. Here, we demonstrate that in hippocampal area CA1, metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent long-term depression (LTD) is associated with increased eIF2? phosphorylation, whereas stimulation of early- and late-phase long-term potentiation (E-LTP and L-LTP, respectively) is associated with decreased eIF2? phosphorylation. Interesting, although PERK-deficient mice exhibit exaggerated mGluR-LTD, both E-LTP and L-LTP remained intact. We also found that mGluR-LTD is associated with a PERK-dependent increase in eIF2? phosphorylation. Our findings are consistent with the notion that eIF2? phosphorylation is a key site for the bidirectional control of persistent forms of synaptic LTP and LTD and suggest a distinct role for PERK in mGluR-LTD.
Neuronal activity regulates AMPA receptor trafficking, a process that mediates changes in synaptic strength, a key component of learning and memory. This form of plasticity may be induced by stimulation of the NMDA receptor which, among its activities, increases cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) through the nitric oxide synthase pathway. cGMP-dependent protein kinase type II (cGKII) is ultimately activated via this mechanism and AMPA receptor subunit GluA1 is phosphorylated at serine 845. This phosphorylation contributes to the delivery of GluA1 to the synapse, a step that increases synaptic strength. Previous studies have shown that cGKII-deficient mice display striking spatial learning deficits in the Morris Water Maze compared to wild-type littermates as well as lowered GluA1 phosphorylation in the postsynaptic density of the prefrontal cortex (Serulle et al., 2007; Wincott et al., 2013). In the current study, we show that cGKII knockout mice exhibit impaired working memory as determined using the prefrontal cortex-dependent Radial Arm Maze (RAM). Additionally, we report reduced repetitive behavior in the Marble Burying task (MB), and heightened anxiety-like traits in the Novelty Suppressed Feeding Test (NSFT). These data suggest that cGKII may play a role in the integration of information that conveys both anxiety-provoking stimuli as well as the spatial and environmental cues that facilitate functional memory processes and appropriate behavioral response.
Although antipsychotic drugs can reduce psychotic behavior within a few hours, full efficacy is not achieved for several weeks, implying that there may be rapid, short-term changes in neuronal function, which are consolidated into long-lasting changes. We showed that the antipsychotic drug haloperidol, a dopamine receptor type 2 (D?R) antagonist, stimulated the kinase Akt to activate the mRNA translation pathway mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). In primary striatal D?R-positive neurons, haloperidol-mediated activation of mTORC1 resulted in increased phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (S6) and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4E-BP). Proteomic mass spectrometry revealed marked changes in the pattern of protein synthesis after acute exposure of cultured striatal neurons to haloperidol, including increased abundance of cytoskeletal proteins and proteins associated with translation machinery. These proteomic changes coincided with increased morphological complexity of neurons that was diminished by inhibition of downstream effectors of mTORC1, suggesting that mTORC1-dependent translation enhances neuronal complexity in response to haloperidol. In vivo, we observed rapid morphological changes with a concomitant increase in the abundance of cytoskeletal proteins in cortical neurons of haloperidol-injected mice. These results suggest a mechanism for both the acute and long-term actions of antipsychotics.
Regulator of calcineurin 1 (RCAN1) controls the activity of calcium/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin (CaN), which has been implicated in human anxiety disorders. Previously, we reported that RCAN1 functioned as an inhibitor of CaN activity in the brain. However, we now find enhanced phosphorylation of a CaN substrate, cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), in the brains of Rcan1 knock-out (KO) mice. Consistent with enhanced CREB activation, we also observe enhanced expression of a CREB transcriptional target, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in Rcan1 KO mice. We also discovered that RCAN1 deletion or blockade of RCAN1-CaN interaction reduced CaN and protein phosphatase-1 localization to nuclear-enriched protein fractions and promoted CREB activation. Because of the potential links between CREB, BDNF, and anxiety, we examined the role of RCAN1 in the expression of innate anxiety. Rcan1 KO mice displayed reduced anxiety in several tests of unconditioned anxiety. Acute pharmacological inhibition of CaN rescued these deficits while transgenic overexpression of human RCAN1 increased anxiety. Finally, we found that Rcan1 KO mice lacked the early anxiogenic response to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine and had improved latency for its therapeutic anxiolytic effects. Together, our study suggests that RCAN1 plays an important role in the expression of anxiety-related and SSRI-related behaviors through CaN-dependent signaling pathways. These results identify RCAN1 as a mediator of innate emotional states and possible therapeutic target for anxiety.
Tau is a microtubule stabilizing protein and is mainly expressed in neurons. Tau aggregation into oligomers and tangles is considered an important pathological event in tauopathies, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimers disease (AD). Tauopathies are also associated with deficits in synaptic plasticity such as long-term potentiation (LTP), but the specific role of tau in the manifestation of these deficiencies is not well-understood. We examined long lasting forms of synaptic plasticity in JNPL3 (BL6) mice expressing mutant tau that is identified in some inherited FTDs.
Administration of typical antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol, promotes cAMP-dependent signaling in the medium spiny neurons (MSNs) of the striatum. In this study, we have examined the effect of haloperidol on the state of phosphorylation of the ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6), a component of the small 40S ribosomal subunit. We found that haloperidol increases the phosphorylation of rpS6 at the dual site Ser235/236, which is involved in the regulation of mRNA translation. This effect was exerted in the MSNs of the indirect pathway, which express specifically dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) and adenosine A2 receptors (A2ARs). The effect of haloperidol was decreased by blockade of A2ARs or by genetic attenuation of the G?(olf) protein, which couples A2ARs to activation of adenylyl cyclase. Moreover, stimulation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) increased Ser235/236 phosphorylation in cultured striatal neurons. The ability of haloperidol to promote rpS6 phosphorylation was abolished in knock-in mice deficient for PKA activation of the protein phosphatase-1 inhibitor, dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32?kDa. In contrast, pharmacological or genetic inactivation of p70 rpS6 kinase 1, or extracellular signal-regulated kinases did not affect haloperidol-induced rpS6 phosphorylation. These results identify PKA as a major rpS6 kinase in neuronal cells and suggest that regulation of protein synthesis through rpS6 may be a potential target of antipsychotic drugs.
Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) causes cellular oxidative damage and has been implicated in the etiology of Alzheimers disease (AD). In contrast, multiple lines of evidence indicate that ROS can normally modulate long-term potentiation (LTP), a cellular model for memory formation. We recently showed that decreasing the level of superoxide through the overexpression of mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD-2) prevents memory deficits in the Tg2576 mouse model of AD. In the current study, we explored whether AD-related LTP impairments could be prevented when ROS generation from mitochondria was diminished either pharmacologically or via genetic manipulation. In wild-type hippocampal slices treated with exogenous amyloid ? peptide (A?1-42) and in slices from APP/PS1 mutant mice that model AD, LTP was impaired. The LTP impairments were prevented by MitoQ, a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant, and EUK134, an SOD and catalase mimetic. In contrast, inhibition of NADPH oxidase either by diphenyliodonium (DPI) or by genetically deleting gp91(phox), the key enzymatic component of NADPH oxidase, had no effect on A?-induced LTP blockade. Moreover, live staining with MitoSOX Red, a mitochondrial superoxide indicator, combined with confocal microscopy, revealed that A?-induced superoxide production could be blunted by MitoQ, but not DPI, in agreement with our electrophysiological findings. Finally, in transgenic mice overexpressing SOD-2, A?-induced LTP impairments and superoxide generation were prevented. Our data suggest a causal relationship between mitochondrial ROS imbalance and A?-induced impairments in hippocampal synaptic plasticity.
Considerable evidence indicates that the general blockade of protein synthesis prevents both the initial consolidation and the postretrieval reconsolidation of long-term memories. These findings come largely from studies of drugs that block ribosomal function, so as to globally interfere with both cap-dependent and -independent forms of translation. Here we show that intra-amygdala microinfusions of 4EGI-1, a small molecule inhibitor of cap-dependent translation that selectively disrupts the interaction between eukaryotic initiation factors (eIF) 4E and 4G, attenuates fear memory consolidation but not reconsolidation. Using a combination of behavioral and biochemical techniques, we provide both in vitro and in vivo evidence that the eIF4E-eIF4G complex is more stringently required for plasticity induced by initial learning than for that triggered by reactivation of an existing memory.
Silencing of a single gene, FMR1, is linked to a highly prevalent form of mental retardation, characterized by social and cognitive impairments, known as fragile X syndrome (FXS). The FMR1 gene encodes fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which negatively regulates translation. Knockout of Fmr1 in mice results in enhanced long-term depression (LTD) induced by metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) activation. Despite the evidence implicating FMRP in LTD, the role of FMRP in long-term potentiation (LTP) is less clear. Synaptic strength can be augmented heterosynaptically through the generation and sequestration of plasticity-related proteins, in a cell-wide manner. If heterosynaptic plasticity is altered in Fmr1 knockout (KO) mice, this may explain the cognitive deficits associated with FXS. We induced homosynaptic plasticity using the ?-adrenergic receptor (?-AR) agonist, isoproterenol (ISO), which facilitated heterosynaptic LTP that was enhanced in Fmr1 KO mice relative to wild-type (WT) controls. To determine if enhanced heterosynaptic LTP in Fmr1 KO mouse hippocampus requires protein synthesis, we applied a translation inhibitor, emetine (EME). EME blocked homo- and heterosynaptic LTP in both genotypes. We also probed the roles of mTOR and ERK in boosting heterosynaptic LTP in Fmr1 KO mice. Although heterosynaptic LTP was blocked in both WT and KOs by inhibitors of mTOR and ERK, homosynaptic LTP was still enhanced following mTOR inhibition in slices from Fmr1 KO mice. Because mTOR will normally stimulate translation initiation, our results suggest that ?-AR stimulation paired with derepression of translation results in enhanced heterosynaptic plasticity.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an evolutionarily conserved Ser/Thr protein kinase that plays a pivotal role in multiple fundamental biological processes, including synaptic plasticity. We explored the relationship between the mTOR pathway and ?-amyloid (A?)-induced synaptic dysfunction, which is considered to be critical in the pathogenesis of Alzheimers disease (AD).
Fragile X syndrome (FXS), a common inherited form of mental impairment and autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. Earlier studies have identified a role for aberrant synaptic plasticity mediated by the metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in FXS. However, many of these observations are derived primarily from studies in the hippocampus. The strong emotional symptoms of FXS, on the other hand, are likely to involve the amygdala. Unfortunately, little is known about how exactly FXS affects synaptic function in the amygdala. Here, using whole-cell recordings in brain slices from adult Fmr1 knockout mice, we find mGluR-dependent long-term potentiation to be impaired at thalamic inputs to principal neurons in the lateral amygdala. Consistent with this long-term potentiation deficit, surface expression of the AMPA receptor subunit, GluR1, is reduced in the lateral amygdala of knockout mice. In addition to these postsynaptic deficits, lower presynaptic release was manifested by a decrease in the frequency of spontaneous miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), increased paired-pulse ratio, and slower use-dependent block of NMDA receptor currents. Strikingly, pharmacological inactivation of mGluR5 with 2-methyl-6-phenylethynyl-pyridine (MPEP) fails to rescue either the deficit in long-term potentiation or surface GluR1. However, the same acute MPEP treatment reverses the decrease in mEPSC frequency, a finding of potential therapeutic relevance. Therefore, our results suggest that synaptic defects in the amygdala of knockout mice are still amenable to pharmacological interventions against mGluR5, albeit in a manner not envisioned in the original hippocampal framework.
Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation and leading genetic cause of autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the Fmr1 gene. The fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), the gene product of Fmr1, is an RNA binding protein that negatively regulates translation in neurons. The Fmr1 knock-out mouse, a model of fragile X syndrome, exhibits cognitive deficits and exaggerated metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent long-term depression at CA1 synapses. However, the molecular mechanisms that link loss of function of FMRP to aberrant synaptic plasticity remain unclear. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling cascade controls initiation of cap-dependent translation and is under control of mGluRs. Here we show that mTOR phosphorylation and activity are elevated in hippocampus of juvenile Fmr1 knock-out mice by four functional readouts: (1) association of mTOR with regulatory associated protein of mTOR; (2) mTOR kinase activity; (3) phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets S6 kinase and 4E-binding protein; and (4) formation of eukaryotic initiation factor complex 4F, a critical first step in cap-dependent translation. Consistent with this, mGluR long-term depression at CA1 synapses of FMRP-deficient mice is exaggerated and rapamycin insensitive. We further show that the p110 subunit of the upstream kinase phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and its upstream activator PI3K enhancer PIKE, predicted targets of FMRP, are upregulated in knock-out mice. Elevated mTOR signaling may provide a functional link between overactivation of group I mGluRs and aberrant synaptic plasticity in the fragile X mouse, mechanisms relevant to impaired cognition in fragile X syndrome.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein kinase involved in translation control and long-lasting synaptic plasticity. mTOR functions as the central component of two multi-protein signaling complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, which can be distinguished from each other based on their unique compositions and substrates. Although the majority of evidence linking mTOR function to synaptic plasticity comes from studies utilizing rapamycin, studies in genetically modified mice also suggest that mTOR couples receptors to the translation machinery for establishing long-lasting synaptic changes that are the basis for higher order brain function, including long-term memory. Finally, perturbation of the mTOR signaling cascade appears to be a common pathophysiological feature of human neurological disorders, including mental retardation syndromes and autism spectrum disorders.
Activity-dependent trafficking of AMPA receptors to synapses regulates synaptic strength. Activation of the NMDA receptor induces several second messenger pathways that contribute to receptor trafficking-dependent plasticity, including the NO pathway, which elevates cGMP. In turn, cGMP activates the cGMP-dependent protein kinase type II (cGKII), which phosphorylates the AMPA receptor subunit GluA1 at serine 845, a critical step facilitating synaptic delivery in the mechanism of activity-dependent synaptic potentiation. Since cGKII is expressed in the striatum, amygdala, cerebral cortex, and hippocampus, it has been proposed that mice lacking cGKII may present phenotypic differences compared to their wild-type littermates in emotion-dependent tasks, learning and memory, and drug reward salience. Previous studies have shown that cGKII KO mice ingest higher amounts of ethanol as well as exhibit elevated anxiety levels compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. Here, we show that cGKII KO mice are significantly deficient in spatial learning while exhibiting facilitated motor coordination, demonstrating a clear dependence of memory-based tasks on cGKII. We also show diminished GluA1 phosphorylation in the postsynaptic density (PSD) of cGKII KO prefrontal cortex while in hippocampal PSD fractions, phosphorylation was not significantly altered. These data suggest that the role of cGKII may be more robust in particular brain regions, thereby impacting complex behaviors dependent on these regions differently.
Persistent forms of synaptic plasticity are widely thought to require the synthesis of new proteins. This feature of long-lasting forms of plasticity largely has been demonstrated using inhibitors of general protein synthesis, such as either anisomycin or emetine. However, these drugs, which inhibit elongation, cannot address detailed questions about the regulation of translation initiation, where the majority of translational control occurs. Moreover, general protein synthesis inhibitors cannot distinguish between cap-dependent and cap-independent modes of translation initiation. In the present study, we took advantage of two novel compounds, 4EGI-1 and hippuristanol, each of which targets a different component of the eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4F initiation complex, and investigated their effects on long-term potentiation (LTP) at CA3-CA1 synapses in the hippocampus. We found that 4EGI-1 and hippuristanol both attenuated long-lasting late-phase LTP induced by two different stimulation paradigms. We also found that 4EGI-1 and hippuristanol each were capable of blocking the expression of newly synthesized proteins immediately after the induction of late-phase LTP. These new pharmacological tools allow for a more precise dissection of the role played by translational control pathways in synaptic plasticity and demonstrate the importance of multiple aspects of eIF4F in processes underlying hippocampal LTP, laying the foundation for future studies investigating the role of eIF4F in hippocampus-dependent memory processes.
Regulator of calcineurin 1 (RCAN1) is related to the expression of human neurologic disorders such as Down syndrome, Alzheimer disease, and chromosome 21q deletion syndrome. We showed here that RCAN1-knockout mice exhibit reduced innate anxiety as indicated by the elevated-plus maze. To examine whether glucocorticoids contribute to this phenotype, we measured fecal corticosterone in male wildtype and RCAN1-knockout mice and in male and female transgenic mice with neuronal overexpression of RCAN1 (Tg-RCAN1(TG)). We found no difference in fecal corticosterone levels of RCAN1-knockout mice and their wildtype littermates. As expected, we found differences between sexes in fecal corticosterone levels. In addition, we found higher levels of excreted corticosterone in Tg-RCAN1(TG) female mice as compared with female wildtype mice. Our data indicate normal diurnal corticosterone production in RCAN1 mutant mice and do not suggest a causal role in either the cognitive or anxiety phenotypes exhibited by RCAN1-knockout mice.
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