Quantitative spatio-temporal characterization of protein interactions in living cells remains a major challenge facing modern biology. We have investigated in living neurons the spatial dependence of the stoichiometry of interactions between two core proteins of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor-associated scaffolding complex, GKAP (also known as DLGAP1) and DLC2 (also known as DYNLL2), using a novel variation of fluorescence fluctuation microscopy called two-photon scanning number and brightness (sN&B). We found that dimerization of DLC2 was required for its interaction with GKAP, which, in turn, potentiated GKAP self-association. In the dendritic shaft, the DLC2-GKAP hetero-oligomeric complexes were composed mainly of two DLC2 and two GKAP monomers, whereas, in spines, the hetero-complexes were much larger, with an average of ?16 DLC2 and ?13 GKAP monomers. Disruption of the GKAP-DLC2 interaction strongly destabilized the oligomers, decreasing the spine-preferential localization of GKAP and inhibiting NMDA receptor activity. Hence, DLC2 serves a hub function in the control of glutamatergic transmission by ordering GKAP-containing complexes in dendritic spines. Beyond illuminating the role of DLC2-GKAP interactions in glutamatergic signaling, these data underscore the power of the sN&B approach for quantitative spatio-temporal imaging of other important protein complexes.
Type 1 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu1) receptors play a pivotal role in different forms of synaptic plasticity in the cerebellar cortex, e.g. long-term depression at glutamatergic synapses and rebound potentiation at GABAergic synapses. These various forms of plasticity might depend on the subsynaptic arrangement of the receptor in Purkinje cells that can be regulated by protein-protein interactions. This study investigated, by means of the freeze-fracture replica immunogold labelling method, the subcellular localization of mGlu1 receptors in the rodent cerebellum and whether Homer proteins regulate their subsynaptic distribution. We observed a widespread extrasynaptic localization of mGlu1 receptors and confirmed their peri-synaptic enrichment at glutamatergic synapses. Conversely, we detected mGlu1 receptors within the main body of GABAergic synapses onto Purkinje cell dendrites. Although Homer proteins are known to interact with the mGlu1 receptor C-terminus, we could not detect Homer3, the most abundant Homer protein in the cerebellar cortex, at GABAergic synapses by pre-embedding and post-embedding immunoelectron microscopy. We then hypothesized a critical role for Homer proteins in the peri-junctional localization of mGlu1 receptors at glutamatergic synapses. To disrupt Homer-associated protein complexes, mice were tail-vein injected with the membrane-permeable dominant-negative TAT-Homer1a. Freeze-fracture replica immunogold labelling analysis showed no significant alteration in the mGlu1 receptor distribution pattern at parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapses, suggesting that other scaffolding proteins are involved in the peri-synaptic confinement. The identification of interactors that regulate the subsynaptic localization of the mGlu1 receptor at neurochemically distinct synapses may offer new insight into its trafficking and intracellular signalling.
Episodic ataxia type-2 (EA2) is a dominantly inherited human neurological disorder caused by loss of function mutations in the CACNA1A gene, which encodes the CaV2.1 subunit of P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium channels. It remains however unknown whether the deficit of cerebellar CaV2.1 in adult is in direct link with the disease. To address this issue, we have used lentiviral based-vector RNA interference (RNAi) to knock-down CaV2.1 expression in the cerebellum of adult mice. We show that suppression of the P/Q-type channels in Purkinje neurons induced motor abnormalities, such as imbalance and ataxic gait. Interestingly, moderate channel suppression caused no basal ataxia, while ?-adrenergic activation and exercise mimicked stress induced motor disorders. Moreover, stress-induced ataxia was stable, non-progressive and totally abolished by acetazolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor used to treat EA2. Altogether, these data reveal that P/Q-type channel suppression in adult mice supports the episodic status of EA2 disease.
Development of dendritic spines is important for synaptic function, and alteration in spine morphogenesis is often associated with mental disorders. Rich2 was an uncharacterized Rho-GAP protein. Here we searched for a role of this protein in spine morphogenesis. We found that it is enriched in dendritic spines of cultured hippocampal pyramidal neurons during early stages of development. Rich2 specifically stimulated the Rac1 GTPase in these neurons. Inhibition of Rac1 by EHT 1864 increased the size and decreased the density of dendritic spines. Similarly, Rich2 overexpression increased the size and decreased the density of dendritic spines, whereas knock-down of the protein by specific si-RNA decreased both size and density of spines. The morphological changes were reflected by the increased amplitude and decreased frequency of miniature EPSCs induced by Rich2 overexpression, while si-RNA treatment decreased both amplitude and frequency of these events. Finally, treatment of neurons with EHT 1864 rescued the phenotype induced by Rich2 knock-down. These results suggested that Rich2 controls dendritic spine morphogenesis and function via inhibition of Rac1.
The orphan GluD2 receptor belongs to the ionotropic glutamate receptor family but does not bind glutamate. Ligand-gated GluD2 currents have never been evidenced, and whether GluD2 operates as an ion channel has been a long-standing question. Here, we show that GluD2 gating is triggered by type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors, both in a heterologous expression system and in Purkinje cells. Thus, GluD2 is not only an adhesion molecule at synapses but also works as a channel. This gating mechanism reveals new properties of glutamate receptors that emerge from their interaction and opens unexpected perspectives regarding synaptic transmission and plasticity.
Synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) is a key mechanism involved in learning and memory, and its alteration is associated with mental disorders. Shank3 is a major postsynaptic scaffolding protein that orchestrates dendritic spine morphogenesis, and mutations of this protein lead to mental retardation and autism spectrum disorders. In the present study we investigated the role of a new Shank3-associated protein in LTP. We identified the Rho-GAP interacting CIP4 homolog 2 (Rich2) as a new Shank3 partner by proteomic screen. Using single-cell bioluminescence resonance energy transfer microscopy, we found that Rich2-Shank3 interaction is increased in dendritic spines of mouse cultured hippocampal neurons during LTP. We further characterized Rich2 as an endosomal recycling protein that controls AMPA receptor GluA1 subunit exocytosis and spine morphology. Knock-down of Rich2 with siRNA, or disruption of the Rich2-Shank3 complex using an interfering mimetic peptide, inhibited the dendritic spine enlargement and the increase in GluA1 subunit exocytosis typical of LTP. These results identify Rich2-Shank3 as a new postsynaptic protein complex involved in synaptic plasticity.
Networks of signaling molecules are activated in response to environmental changes. How are these signaling networks dynamically integrated in space and time to process particular information? To tackle this issue, biosensors of single signaling pathways have been engineered. Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET)-based biosensors have proven to be particularly efficient in that matter due to the high sensitivity of this technology to monitor protein-protein interactions or conformational changes in living cells. Extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) are ubiquitously expressed and involved in many diverse cellular functions that might be encoded by the strength and spatio-temporal pattern of ERK activation. We developed a BRET-based sensor of ERK activity, called Rluc8-ERKsubstrate-Venus (REV). As expected, BRET changes of REV were correlated with ERK phosphorylation, which is required for its kinase activity. In neurons, the nature of the stimuli determines the strength, the location, or the moment of ERK activation, thus highlighting how acute modulation of ERK may encode the nature of initial stimulus to specify the consequences of this activation. This study provides evidence for suitability of REV as a new biosensor to address biological questions.
Recent studies suggest that blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability contributes to epileptogenesis in symptomatic epilepsies. We have previously described angiogenesis, aberrant vascularization, and BBB alteration in drug-refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. Here, we investigated the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in an in vitro integrative model of vascular remodeling induced by epileptiform activity in rat organotypic hippocampal cultures. After kainate-induced seizure-like events (SLEs), we observed an overexpression of VEGF and VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) as well as receptor activation. Vascular density and branching were significantly increased, whereas zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1), a key protein of tight junctions (TJs), was downregulated. These effects were fully prevented by VEGF neutralization. Using selective inhibitors of VEGFR-2 signaling pathways, we found that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase is involved in cell survival, protein kinase C (PKC) in vascularization, and Src in ZO-1 regulation. Recombinant VEGF reproduced the kainate-induced vascular changes. As in the kainate model, VEGFR-2 and Src were involved in ZO-1 downregulation. These results showed that VEGF/VEGFR-2 initiates the vascular remodeling induced by SLEs and pointed out the roles of PKC in vascularization and Src in TJ dysfunction, respectively. This suggests that Src pathway could be a therapeutic target for BBB protection in epilepsies.
A large number of evidences suggest that group-I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1a, 1b, 1c, 5a, 5b) can modulate NMDA receptor activity. Interestingly, a physical link exists between these receptors through a Homer-Shank multi-protein scaffold that can be disrupted by the immediate early gene, Homer1a. Whether such a versatile link supports functional crosstalk between the receptors is unknown.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key transmembrane recognition molecules for regulatory signals such as light, odors, taste hormones, and neurotransmitters. In addition to activating guanine nucleotide binding proteins (G proteins), GPCRs associate with a variety of GPCR-interacting proteins (GIPs). GIPs contain structural interacting domains that allow the formation of large functional complexes involved in G protein-dependent and -independent signaling. At the cellular level, other functions of GIPs include targeting of GPCRs to subcellular compartments and their trafficking to and from the plasma membrane. Recently, roles of GPCR-GIP interactions in central nervous system physiology and pathologies have been revealed. Here, we highlight the role of GIPs in some important neurological and psychiatric disorders, as well as their potential for the future development of therapeutic drugs.
Extensive work has shown that activation of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) is crucial for long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus, a phenomenon that is thought to be involved in memory formation. Here we studied the role of an alternative target of cAMP, the exchange protein factor directly activated by cyclic AMP (Epac). We show that pharmacological activation of Epac by the selective agonist 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2-O-methyl-cAMP (8-pCPT) induces LTD in the CA1 region. Paired-pulse facilitation of synaptic responses remained unchanged after induction of this LTD, suggesting that it depended on postsynaptic mechanisms. The 8-pCPT-induced LTD was blocked by the Epac signalling inhibitor brefeldin-A (BFA), Rap-1 antagonist geranylgeranyltransferase inhibitor (GGTI) and p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (P38-MAPK) inhibitor SB203580. This indicated a direct involvement of Epac in this form of LTD. As for other forms of LTD, a mimetic peptide of the PSD-95/Disc-large/ZO-1 homology (PDZ) ligand motif of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR2 blocked the Epac-LTD, suggesting involvement of PDZ protein interaction. The Epac-LTD also depended on mobilization of intracellular Ca(2+), proteasome activity and mRNA translation, but not transcription, as it was inhibited by thapsigargin, lactacystin and anisomycin, but not actinomycin-D, respectively. Finally, we found that the pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) can induce an LTD that was mutually occluded by the Epac-LTD and blocked by BFA or SB203580, suggesting that the Epac-LTD could be mobilized by stimulation of PACAP receptors. Altogether these results provided evidence for a new form of hippocampal LTD.
Scaffolding proteins interact with membrane receptors to control signaling pathways and cellular functions. However, the dynamics and specific roles of interactions between different components of scaffold complexes are poorly understood because of the dearth of methods available to monitor binding interactions. Using a unique combination of single-cell bioluminescence resonance energy transfer imaging in living neurons and electrophysiological recordings, in this paper, we depict the role of glutamate receptor scaffold complex remodeling in space and time to control synaptic transmission. Despite a broad colocalization of the proteins in neurons, we show that spine-confined assembly/disassembly of this scaffold complex, physiologically triggered by sustained activation of synaptic NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptors, induces physical association between ionotropic (NMDA) and metabotropic (mGlu5a) synaptic glutamate receptors. This physical interaction results in an mGlu5a receptor-mediated inhibition of NMDA currents, providing an activity-dependent negative feedback loop on NMDA receptor activity. Such protein scaffold remodeling represents a form of homeostatic control of synaptic excitability.
Restoring synaptic plasticity in neurodegenerative diseases could prevent neuronal degeneration, as well as motor and cognitive disorders. In Parkinsons disease, synaptic plasticity at corticostriatal synapses is altered. Dendrites of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) receive dopaminergic inputs from the substantia nigra and glutamatergic cortical afferents. Because both glutamate and dopamine are required to induce and sustain MSNs plasticity, the particular molecular mechanisms involved at this synaptic triad are difficult to understand. In the present work, we established a convenient in vitro model of the corticostriatal synapse to study synaptic plasticity. We focused on long-term depression involving group I metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors. We found that in striatal neurons co-cultured with cortical neurons, the absence of dopaminergic stimuli favored the excess of glutamatergic drive from cortical neuron terminals, thus resulting in a constitutive depression of the corticostriatal glutamatergic transmission. Indeed, concomitant blockade of group I mGlu receptors and activation of dopaminergic receptors stably reduced the depression of the synaptic transmission. Thus the dependence on glutamate and dopamine balance of the corticostriatal synapse responsiveness validates the accuracy of this manageable in vitro model to depict the molecular pathways involved in the plasticity at corticostriatal synapses and to test restorative therapeutic approaches in Parkinsons disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors.
In the mammalian brain, the large majority of excitatory synapses express pre- and postsynaptic glutamate receptors. These are ion channels and G protein-coupled membrane proteins that are organized into functional signaling complexes. Here, we will review the nature and pathophysiological functions of the scaffolding proteins associated to these receptors, focusing on the G protein-coupled subtypes.
At glutamatergic brain synapses, scaffolding proteins regulate receptor location and function. The targeting and organization of scaffolding proteins in the postsynaptic density (PSD) is poorly understood, but it is known that a core protein of the glutamatergic receptor postsynaptic scaffold complex, guanylate-kinase-associated protein (GKAP) interacts with dynein light chain 2 (DLC2, also known as DYNLL2), a protein associated with molecular motors. In the present study, we combined BRET imaging, immunostaining and electrophysiological recording to assess the role of the GKAP-DLC2 interaction in the functional organization of the glutamatergic synapse. We found that GKAP-DLC2 interaction in dendritic spine stabilizes scaffolding protein expression at the PSD and enhances synaptic NMDA receptor activity. Moreover, the GKAP-DLC2 functional interaction is favored by sustained synaptic activity. These data identify a regulatory pathway of synaptic transmission that depends on activity-induced remodelling of the postsynaptic scaffold protein complex.
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