The gene silencing transcription factor REST [repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor]/NRSF (neuron-restrictive silencer factor) actively represses a large array of coding and noncoding neuron-specific genes important to synaptic plasticity including miR-132. miR-132 is a neuron-specific microRNA and plays a pivotal role in synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity and structural remodeling. However, a role for miR-132 in neuronal death is not, as yet, well-delineated. Here we show that ischemic insults promote REST binding and epigenetic remodeling at the miR-132 promoter and silencing of miR-132 expression in selectively vulnerable hippocampal CA1 neurons. REST occupancy was not altered at the miR-9 or miR-124a promoters despite the presence of repressor element 1 sites, indicating REST target specificity. Ischemia induced a substantial decrease in two marks of active gene transcription, dimethylation of lysine 4 on core histone 3 (H3K4me2) and acetylation of lysine 9 on H3 (H3K9ac) at the miR-132 promoter. RNAi-mediated depletion of REST in vivo blocked ischemia-induced loss of miR-132 in insulted hippocampal neurons, consistent with a causal relation between activation of REST and silencing of miR-132. Overexpression of miR-132 in primary cultures of hippocampal neurons or delivered directly into the CA1 of living rats by means of the lentiviral expression system prior to induction of ischemia afforded robust protection against ischemia-induced neuronal death. These findings document a previously unappreciated role for REST-dependent repression of miR-132 in the neuronal death associated with global ischemia and identify a novel therapeutic target for amelioration of the neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits associated with ischemic stroke.
Repressor Element-1 (RE1) Silencing Transcription Factor/Neuron-Restrictive Silencer Factor (REST/NRSF) is a gene-silencing factor that is widely expressed during embryogenesis and plays a strategic role in neuronal differentiation. Recent studies indicate that REST can be activated in differentiated neurons during a critical window of time in postnatal development and in adult neurons in response to neuronal insults such as seizures and ischemia. However, the mechanism by which REST is regulated in neurons is as yet unknown. Here, we show that REST is controlled at the level of protein stability via ?-TrCP-dependent, ubiquitin-based proteasomal degradation in differentiated neurons under physiological conditions and identify Casein Kinase 1 (CK1) as an upstream effector that bidirectionally regulates REST cellular abundance. CK1 associates with and phosphorylates REST at two neighboring, but distinct, motifs within the C terminus of REST critical for binding of ?-TrCP and targeting of REST for proteasomal degradation. We further show that global ischemia in rats in vivo triggers a decrease in CK1 and an increase in REST in selectively vulnerable hippocampal CA1 neurons. Administration of the CK1 activator pyrvinium pamoate by in vivo injection immediately after ischemia restores CK1 activity, suppresses REST expression, and rescues neurons destined to die. Our results identify a novel and previously unappreciated role for CK1 as a brake on REST stability and abundance in adult neurons and reveal that loss of CK1 is causally related to ischemia-induced neuronal death. These findings point to CK1 as a potential therapeutic target for the amelioration of hippocampal injury and cognitive deficits associated with global ischemia.
The NMDA-type glutamate receptor (NMDAR) is essential for synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and higher cognitive function. Emerging evidence indicates that NMDAR Ca(2+) permeability is under the control of cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) signaling. Whereas the functional impact of PKA on NMDAR-dependent Ca(2+) signaling is well established, the molecular target remains unknown. Here we identify serine residue 1166 (Ser1166) in the carboxy-terminal tail of the NMDAR subunit GluN2B to be a direct molecular and functional target of PKA phosphorylation critical to NMDAR-dependent Ca(2+) permeation and Ca(2+) signaling in spines. Activation of ?-adrenergic and D1/D5-dopamine receptors induces Ser1166 phosphorylation. Loss of this single phosphorylation site abolishes PKA-dependent potentiation of NMDAR Ca(2+) permeation, synaptic currents, and Ca(2+) rises in dendritic spines. We further show that adverse experience in the form of forced swim, but not exposure to fox urine, elicits striking phosphorylation of Ser1166 in vivo, indicating differential impact of different forms of stress. Our data identify a novel molecular and functional target of PKA essential to NMDAR-mediated Ca(2+) signaling at synapses and regulated by the emotional response to stress.
Transient global ischemia causes selective, delayed death of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons in humans and animals. It is well established that estrogens ameliorate neuronal death in animal models of focal and global ischemia. However, the role of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) and its target genes in estradiol neuroprotection in global ischemia remains unclear. Here we show that a single intracerebral injection of 17?-estradiol to ovariectomized female rats immediately after ischemia rescues CA1 neurons destined to die. Ischemia promotes activation of STAT3 signaling, association of STAT3 with the promoters of target genes, and STAT3-dependent mRNA and protein expression of prosurvival proteins in the selectively vulnerable CA1. In animals subjected to ischemia, acute postischemic estradiol further enhances activation and nuclear translocation of STAT3 and STAT3-dependent transcription of target genes. Importantly, we show that STAT3 is critical to estradiol neuroprotection, as evidenced by the ability of STAT3 inhibitor peptide and STAT3 shRNA delivered directly into the CA1 of living animals to abolish neuroprotection. In addition, we identify survivin, a member of the inhibitor-of-apoptosis family of proteins and known gene target of STAT3, as essential to estradiol neuroprotection, as evidenced by the ability of shRNA to survivin to reverse neuroprotection. These findings indicate that ischemia and estradiol act synergistically to promote activation of STAT3 and STAT3-dependent transcription of survivin in insulted CA1 neurons and identify STAT3 and survivin as potentially important therapeutic targets in an in vivo model of global ischemia.
The phosphoinositide signaling system is a crucial regulator of neural development, cell survival, and plasticity. Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) negatively regulates phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling and downstream targets. Nse-Cre Pten conditional knockout mice, in which Pten is ablated in granule cells of the dentate gyrus and pyramidal neurons of the hippocampal CA3, but not CA1, recapitulate many of the symptoms of humans with inactivating PTEN mutations, including progressive hypertrophy of the dentate gyrus and deficits in hippocampus-based social and cognitive behaviors. However, the impact of Pten loss on activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in this clinically relevant mouse model of Pten inactivation remains unclear. Here, we show that two phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase- and protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, theta burst-induced long-term potentiation and metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent long-term depression, are dysregulated at medial perforant path-to-dentate gyrus synapses of young Nse-Cre Pten conditional knockout mice before the onset of visible morphological abnormalities. In contrast, long-term potentiation and mGluR-dependent long-term depression are normal at CA3-CA1 pyramidal cell synapses at this age. Our results reveal that deletion of Pten in dentate granule cells dysregulates synaptic plasticity, a defect that may underlie abnormal social and cognitive behaviors observed in humans with Pten inactivating mutations and potentially other autism spectrum disorders.
Locomotor sensitization is a common and robust behavioral alteration in rodents whereby following exposure to abused drugs such as cocaine, the animal becomes significantly more hyperactive in response to an acute drug challenge. Here, we further analyzed the role of cocaine-induced silent synapses in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell and their contribution to the development of locomotor sensitization. Using a combination of viral vector-mediated genetic manipulations, biochemistry, and electrophysiology in a locomotor sensitization paradigm with repeated, daily, noncontingent cocaine (15 mg/kg) injections, we show that dominant-negative cAMP-element binding protein (CREB) prevents cocaine-induced generation of silent synapses of young (30 d old) rats, whereas constitutively active CREB is sufficient to increase the number of NR2B-containing NMDA receptors (NMDARs) at synapses and to generate silent synapses. We further show that occupancy of CREB at the NR2B promoter increases and is causally related to the increase in synaptic NR2B levels. Blockade of NR2B-containing NMDARs by administration of the NR2B-selective antagonist Ro256981 directly into the NAc, under conditions that inhibit cocaine-induced silent synapses, prevents the development of cocaine-elicited locomotor sensitization. Our data are consistent with a cellular cascade whereby cocaine-induced activation of CREB promotes CREB-dependent transcription of NR2B and synaptic incorporation of NR2B-containing NMDARs, which generates new silent synapses within the NAc. We propose that cocaine-induced activation of CREB and generation of new silent synapses may serve as key cellular events mediating cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization. These findings provide a novel cellular mechanism that may contribute to cocaine-induced behavioral alterations.
Dynamic regulation of the localization and function of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) is critical for synaptic development and function. The composition and localization of NMDAR subunits at synapses are tightly regulated and can influence the ability of individual synapses to undergo long-lasting changes in response to stimuli. Here, we examine mechanisms by which EphB2, a receptor tyrosine kinase that binds and phosphorylates NMDARs, controls NMDAR subunit localization and function at synapses. We find that, in mature neurons, EphB2 expression levels regulate the amount of NMDARs at synapses, and EphB activation decreases Ca(2+)-dependent desensitization of NR2B-containing NMDARs. EphBs are required for enhanced localization of NR2B-containing NMDARs at synapses of mature neurons; triple EphB knock-out mice lacking EphB1-3 exhibit homeostatic upregulation of NMDAR surface expression and loss of proper targeting to synaptic sites. These findings demonstrate that, in the mature nervous system, EphBs are key regulators of the synaptic localization of NMDARs.
Growing evidence suggests that FGFs secreted from embryonic signaling centers are key mediators of cell survival. However, the mechanisms regulating FGF-dependent cell survival remain obscure. At the rostral end of the embryo, for example, ablation of FGF signaling leads to the rapid death of the precursor cells that form the anterior head, including the telencephalon. Here, we outline a core genetic circuit that regulates survival in the embryonic mouse head: WNT signaling through ?-catenin directly maintains FGF expression and requires FGF function in vivo to oppose proapoptotic TGF-? signaling through SMAD4. Moreover, these antagonistic pathways converge on the transcriptional regulation of apoptosis, and genes such as Cdkn1a, suggesting a mechanism for how signaling centers in the embryonic head regulate cell survival.
Loss of one type of sensory input can cause improved functionality of other sensory systems. Whereas this form of plasticity, cross-modal plasticity, is well established, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying it are still unclear. Here, we show that visual deprivation (VD) increases extracellular serotonin in the juvenile rat barrel cortex. This increase in serotonin levels facilitates synaptic strengthening at layer 4 to layer 2/3 synapses within the barrel cortex. Upon VD, whisker experience leads to trafficking of the AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) into these synapses through the activation of ERK and increased phosphorylation of AMPAR subunit GluR1 at the juvenile age when natural whisker experience no longer induces synaptic GluR1 delivery. VD thereby leads to sharpening of the functional whisker-barrel map at layer 2/3. Thus, sensory deprivation of one modality leads to serotonin release in remaining modalities, facilitates GluR1-dependent synaptic strengthening, and refines cortical organization.
Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1/5) are important to synaptic circuitry formation during development and to forms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Dysregulation of mGluR1/5 signaling is implicated in some disorders of neurodevelopment, including fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disabilities and leading cause of autism. Site(s) in the intracellular loops of mGluR1/5 directly bind caveolin-1, an adaptor protein that associates with membrane rafts. Caveolin-1 is the main coat component of caveolae and organizes macromolecular signaling complexes with effector proteins and membrane receptors. We report that long-term depression (LTD) elicited by a single application of the group I mGluR selective agonist (RS)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) was markedly attenuated at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses of mice lacking caveolin-1 (Cav1(-/-)), as assessed by field recording. In contrast, multiple applications of DHPG produced LTD comparable to that in WT mice. Passive membrane properties, basal glutamatergic transmission and NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent LTD were unaltered. The remaining LTD was reduced by anisomycin, an inhibitor of protein synthesis, by U0126, an inhibitor of MEK1/2 kinases, and by rapamycin, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), suggesting mediation by the same mechanisms as in WT. mGluR1/5-dependent activation (phosphorylation) of MEK and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) was altered in Cav1(-/-) mice; basal phosphorylation was increased, but a single application of DHPG had no further effect, and after DHPG, phosphorylation was similar in WT and Cav1(-/-) mice. Taken together, our findings suggest that caveolin-1 is required for normal coupling of mGluR1/5 to downstream signaling cascades and induction of mGluR-LTD.
This review highlights our investigations into the neuroprotective efficacy of estradiol and other estrogenic agents in a clinically relevant animal model of transient global ischemia, which causes selective, delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons and associated cognitive deficits. We find that estradiol rescues a significant number of CA1 pyramidal neurons that would otherwise die in response to global ischemia, and this is true when hormone is provided as a long-term pretreatment at physiological doses or as an acute treatment at the time of reperfusion. In addition to enhancing neuronal survival, both forms of estradiol treatment induce measurable cognitive benefit in young animals. Moreover, estradiol and estrogen analogs that do not bind classical nuclear estrogen receptors retain their neuroprotective efficacy in middle-aged females deprived of ovarian hormones for a prolonged duration (8weeks). Thus, non-feminizing estrogens may represent a new therapeutic approach for treating the neuronal damage associated with global ischemia.
What happens to a single, presynaptically quiescent synapse among a population of active synapses? In this issue of Neuron, Ehlers and colleagues show that, far from being eliminated, these inactive synapses are primed for potentiation and incorporation into a new neural circuit through an upregulation of NR2B-containing NMDA receptors.
Fragile X syndrome is the leading single gene cause of intellectual disabilities. Treatment of a Drosophila model of Fragile X syndrome with metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonists or lithium rescues social and cognitive impairments. A hallmark feature of the Fragile X mouse model is enhanced mGluR-dependent long-term depression (LTD) at Schaffer collateral to CA1 pyramidal synapses of the hippocampus. Here we examine the effects of chronic treatment of Fragile X mice in vivo with lithium or a group II mGluR antagonist on mGluR-LTD at CA1 synapses. We find that long-term lithium treatment initiated during development (5-6 weeks of age) and continued throughout the lifetime of the Fragile X mice until 9-11 months of age restores normal mGluR-LTD. Additionally, chronic short-term treatment beginning in adult Fragile X mice (8 weeks of age) with either lithium or an mGluR antagonist is also able to restore normal mGluR-LTD. Translating the findings of successful pharmacologic intervention from the Drosophila model into the mouse model of Fragile X syndrome is an important advance, in that this identifies and validates these targets as potential therapeutic interventions for the treatment of individuals afflicted with Fragile X syndrome.
Ischemic tolerance is an evolutionarily conserved form of cerebral plasticity in which a brief period of cerebral ischemia (called ischemic preconditioning) confers transient tolerance to a subsequent ischemic challenge in the brain. Polycomb group proteins are gene-silencing factors that are abundant and widely distributed during embryogenesis and are essential to epigenetic cellular memory, pluripotency, and stem cell self-renewal. New insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying ischemic tolerance is highlighted by the finding that ischemic preconditioning activates polycomb proteins in mature neurons. Polycomb proteins act through epigenetic gene silencing to eradicate potential mediators of neuronal death and promote cellular arrest, enabling mature neurons to survive ischemic stroke.
Inducible DNA repair via the base-excision repair pathway is an important prosurvival mechanism activated in response to oxidative DNA damage. Elevated levels of the essential base-excision repair enzyme apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1)/redox effector factor-1 correlate closely with neuronal survival against ischemic insults, depending on the CNS region, protective treatments, and degree of insult. However, the precise mechanisms by which this multifunctional protein affords protection and is activated by upstream signaling pathways in postischemic neurons are not well delineated. Here we show that intracerebral administration of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP), an endogenously occurring small neuropeptide, induces expression of APE1 in hippocampal neurons. Induction of APE1 expression requires PKA- and p38-dependent phosphorylation of cAMP response-element binding and activating transcription factor 2, which leads to transactivation of the APE1 promoter. We further show that PACAP markedly reduces oxidative DNA stress and hippocampal CA1 neuronal death following transient global ischemia. These effects occurred, at least in part, via enhanced APE1 expression. Furthermore, the DNA repair function of APE1 was required for PACAP-mediated neuroprotection. Thus, induction of DNA repair enzymes may be a unique strategy for neuroprotection against hippocampal injury.
Global ischemia arising during cardiac arrest or cardiac surgery causes highly selective, delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons. Exogenous estradiol ameliorates global ischemia-induced neuronal death and cognitive impairment in male and female rodents. However, the molecular mechanisms by which a single acute injection of estradiol administered after the ischemic event intervenes in global ischemia-induced apoptotic cell death are unclear. Here we show that acute estradiol acts via the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) signaling cascade to protect CA1 neurons in ovariectomized female rats. We demonstrate that global ischemia promotes early activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3beta) and forkhead transcription factor of the O class (FOXO)3A, known Akt targets that are related to cell survival, and activation of caspase-3. Estradiol prevents ischemia-induced dephosphorylation and activation of GSK3beta and FOXO3A, and the caspase death cascade. These findings support a model whereby estradiol acts by activation of PI3K/Akt signaling to promote neuronal survival in the face of global ischemia.
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.
mRNA localization and regulated translation provide a means of spatially restricting gene expression within each of the thousands of subcellular compartments made by a neuron, thereby vastly increasing the computational capacity of the brain. Recent studies reveal that local translation is regulated by stimuli that trigger neurite outgrowth and/or collapse, axon guidance, synapse formation, pruning, activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, and injury-induced axonal regeneration. Impairments in the local regulation of translation result in aberrant signaling, physiology and morphology of neurons, and are linked to neurological disorders. This review highlights current advances in understanding how mRNA translation is repressed during transport and how local translation is activated by stimuli. We address the function of local translation in the context of fragile X mental retardation.
Pretreatment with 17beta-estradiol (E2) is profoundly neuroprotective in young animals subjected to focal and global ischemia. However, whether E2 retains its neuroprotective efficacy in aging animals, especially when administered after brain insult, is largely unknown.
Protein kinase C (PKC) enhances NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated currents and promotes NMDAR delivery to the cell surface via SNARE-dependent exocytosis. Although the mechanisms of PKC potentiation are established, the molecular target of PKC is unclear. Here we show that synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25), a SNARE protein, is functionally relevant to PKC-dependent NMDAR insertion, and identify serine residue-187 as the molecular target of PKC phosphorylation. Constitutively active PKC delivered via the patch pipette potentiated NMDA (but not AMPA) whole-cell currents in hippocampal neurons. Expression of RNAi targeting SNAP-25 or mutant SNAP-25(S187A) and/or acute disruption of the SNARE complex by treatment with BoNT A, BoNT B or SNAP-25 C-terminal blocking peptide abolished NMDAR potentiation. A SNAP-25 peptide and function-blocking antibody suppressed PKC potentiation of NMDA EPSCs at mossy fiber-CA3 synapses. These findings identify SNAP-25 as the target of PKC phosphorylation critical to PKC-dependent incorporation of synaptic NMDARs and document a postsynaptic action of this major SNARE protein relevant to synaptic plasticity.
NMDARs (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors) are critical for synaptic function throughout the CNS (central nervous system). NMDAR-mediated Ca(2+) influx is implicated in neuronal differentiation, neuronal migration, synaptogenesis, structural remodelling, long-lasting forms of synaptic plasticity and higher cognitive functions. NMDAR-mediated Ca(2+) signalling in dendritic spines is not static, but can be remodelled in a cell- and synapse-specific manner by NMDAR subunit composition, protein kinases and neuronal activity during development and in response to sensory experience. Recent evidence indicates that Ca(2+) permeability of neuronal NMDARs, NMDAR-mediated Ca(2+) signalling in spines and induction of NMDAR-dependent LTP (long-term potentiation) at hippocampal Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses are under control of the cAMP/PKA (protein kinase A) signalling cascade. Thus, by enhancing Ca(2+) influx through NMDARs in spines, PKA can regulate the induction of LTP. An emerging concept is that activity-dependent regulation of NMDAR-mediated Ca(2+) signalling by PKA and by extracellular signals that modulate cAMP or protein phosphatases at synaptic sites provides a dynamic and potentially powerful mechanism for bi-directional regulation of synaptic efficacy and remodelling.
Localization of mRNAs to dendrites and local protein synthesis afford spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression and endow synapses with the capacity to autonomously alter their structure and function. Emerging evidence indicates that RNA binding proteins, ribosomes, translation factors and mRNAs encoding proteins critical to synaptic structure and function localize to neuronal processes. RNAs are transported into dendrites in a translationally quiescent state where they are activated by synaptic stimuli. Two RNA binding proteins that regulate dendritic RNA delivery and translational repression are cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein and fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). The fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common known genetic cause of autism and is characterized by the loss of FMRP. Hallmark features of the FXS include dysregulation of spine morphogenesis and exaggerated metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent long term depression, a cellular substrate of learning and memory. Current research focuses on mechanisms whereby mRNAs are transported in a translationally repressed state from soma to distal process and are activated at synaptic sites in response to synaptic signals.
Changes in emotional state are known to alter neuronal excitability and can modify learning and memory formation. Such experience-dependent neuronal plasticity can be long-lasting and is thought to involve the regulation of gene transcription. We found that a single fear-inducing stimulus increased GluR2 (also known as Gria2) mRNA abundance and promoted synaptic incorporation of GluR2-containing AMPA receptors (AMPARs) in mouse cerebellar stellate cells. The switch in synaptic AMPAR phenotype was mediated by noradrenaline and action potential prolongation. The subsequent rise in intracellular Ca(2+) and activation of Ca(2+)-sensitive ERK/MAPK signaling triggered new GluR2 gene transcription and a switch in the synaptic AMPAR phenotype from GluR2-lacking, Ca(2+)-permeable receptors to GluR2-containing, Ca(2+)-impermeable receptors on the order of hours. The change in glutamate receptor phenotype altered synaptic efficacy in cerebellar stellate cells. Thus, a single fear-inducing stimulus can induce a long-term change in synaptic receptor phenotype and may alter the activity of an inhibitory neural network.
The cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) signaling cascade is crucial for synaptic plasticity in a wide variety of species. PKA regulates Ca2+ permeation through NMDA receptors (NMDARs) and induction of NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity at the Schaffer collateral to CA1 pyramidal cell synapse. Whereas the role of PKA in induction of NMDAR-dependent LTP at CA1 synapses is established, the identity of PKA isoforms involved in this phenomenon is less clear. Here we report that protein synthesis-independent NMDAR-dependent LTP at the Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapse in the hippocampus is deficient, but NMDAR-dependent LTD is normal, in young (postnatal day 10 (P10)-P14) mice lacking PKA RIIbeta, the PKA regulatory protein that links PKA to NMDARs at synaptic sites. In contrast, in young adult (P21-P28) mice lacking PKA RIIbeta, LTP is normal and LTD is abolished. These findings indicate that distinct PKA isoforms may subserve distinct forms of synaptic plasticity and are consistent with a developmental switch in the signaling cascades required for LTP induction.
Endocytic trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors is critical to neuronal signaling and activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Although the importance of clathrin-mediated endocytosis in receptor trafficking in neurons is well established, the contribution of the caveolar/lipid raft pathway has been little explored. Here, we show that caveolin-1, an adaptor protein that associates with lipid rafts and the main coat protein of caveolae, binds to and colocalizes with metabotropic glutamate receptors 1/5 (mGluR1/5). The interaction with caveolin-1 controls the rate of constitutive mGluR1 internalization, thereby regulating expression of the receptor at the cell surface. Consistent with a role for caveolin-1 in mGluR trafficking, we show that mGluR1/5 associate with lipid rafts in the brain and that their constitutive internalization is mediated, in both heterologous cells and neurons, by caveolar/raft-dependent endocytosis. We further show that caveolin-1 attenuates mGluR1-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, an effect that is abolished in cells expressing mutant mGluR1 lacking intact caveolin binding motifs. Neurons from caveolin-1 knock-out mice show enhanced basal ERK1/2 phosphorylation and prolonged ERK1/2 activation in response to stimulation with DHPG [(RS)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine], a group I mGluR-selective agonist. Together, these findings underscore the importance of caveolar rafts in neurons and suggest that this pathway might play an important role in synapse formation and plasticity.
Studies over the past decade have enunciated silent synapses as prominent cellular substrates for synaptic plasticity in the developing brain. However, little is known about whether silent synapses can be generated postdevelopmentally. Here, we demonstrate that highly salient in vivo experience, such as exposure to cocaine, generates silent synapses in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell, a key brain region mediating addiction-related learning and memory. Furthermore, this cocaine-induced generation of silent synapses is mediated by membrane insertions of new, NR2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptors (NMDARs). These results provide evidence that silent synapses can be generated de novo by in vivo experience and thus may act as highly efficient neural substrates for the subsequent experience-dependent synaptic plasticity underlying extremely long-lasting memory.
Regulated trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors is critical to normal neurodevelopment and neuronal signaling. Group I mGluRs (mGluR1/5 and their splice variants) are G protein-coupled receptors enriched at excitatory synapses, where they serve to modulate glutamatergic transmission. The mGluR1 splice variants mGluR1a and mGluR1b are broadly expressed in the central nervous system and differ in their signaling and trafficking properties. Several proteins have been identified that selectively interact with mGluR1a and participate in receptor trafficking but no proteins interacting with mGluR1b have thus far been reported. We have used a proteomic strategy to isolate and identify proteins that co-purify with mGluR1b in Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells, an established model system for trafficking studies. Here, we report the identification of 10 novel candidate mGluR1b-interacting proteins. Several of the identified proteins are structural components of the cell cytoskeleton, while others serve as cytoskeleton-associated adaptors and motors or endoplasmic reticulum-associated chaperones. Findings from this work will help unravel the complex cellular mechanisms underlying mGluR trafficking under physiological and pathological conditions.
Dysregulation of Akt signaling is important in a broad range of diseases that includes cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The role of Akt signaling in brain disorders is less clear. We found that global ischemia in intact rats triggered expression and activation of the Akt inhibitor CTMP (carboxyl-terminal modulator protein) in vulnerable hippocampal neurons and that CTMP bound and extinguished Akt activity and was essential to ischemia-induced neuronal death. Although ischemia induced a marked phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of Akt, phosphorylated Akt was not active in post-ischemic neurons, as assessed by kinase assays and phosphorylation of the downstream targets GSK-3beta and FOXO3A. RNA interference-mediated depletion of CTMP in a clinically relevant model of stroke restored Akt activity and rescued hippocampal neurons. Our results indicate that CTMP is important in the neurodegeneration that is associated with stroke and identify CTMP as a therapeutic target for the amelioration of hippocampal injury and cognitive deficits.
The potential neuroprotective role of sex hormones in chronic neurodegenerative disorders and acute brain ischemia following cardiac arrest and stroke is of a great therapeutic interest. Long-term pretreatment with estradiol and other estrogens affords robust neuroprotection in male and female rodents subjected to focal and global ischemia. However, the receptors (e.g., cell surface or nuclear), intracellular signaling pathways and networks of estrogen-regulated genes that intervene in neuronal apoptosis are as yet unclear. We have shown that estradiol administered at physiological levels for two weeks before ischemia rescues neurons destined to die in the hippocampal CA1 and ameliorates ischemia-induced cognitive deficits in ovariectomized female rats. This regimen of estradiol treatment involves classical intracellular estrogen receptors, transactivation of IGF-1 receptors and stimulation of the ERK/MAPK signaling pathway, which in turn maintains CREB activity in the ischemic CA1. We also find that a single, acute injection of estradiol administrated into the brain ventricle immediately after an ischemic event reduces both neuronal death and cognitive deficits. Because these findings suggest that hormones could be used to treat patients when given after brain ischemia, it is critical to determine whether the same or different pathways mediate this form of neuroprotection. We find that an agonist of the membrane estrogen receptor GPR30 mimics short latency estradiol facilitation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Therefore, we are testing the hypothesis that GPR30 may act together with intracellular estrogen receptors to activate cell signaling pathways to promote neuron survival after global ischemia.
Ginseng has been shown to have memory-improving effects in human. However, little is known about the active components and the molecular mechanisms underlying its effects. Recently, we isolated novel lysophosphatidic acids (LPAs)-ginseng protein complex derived from ginseng, gintonin. Gintonin activates G protein-coupled LPA receptors with high affinity. Gintonin activated Ca²?-activated Clchannels in Xenopus oocytes through the activation of endogenous LPA receptor. In the present study, we investigated whether the activation of LPA receptor by gintonin is coupled to the regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor channel activity in Xenopus oocytes expressing rat NMDA receptors. The NMDA receptor-mediated ion current (I ( NMDA )) was measured using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique. In oocytes injected with cRNAs encoding NMDA receptor subunits, gintonin enhanced I ( NMDA ) in a concentration-dependent manner. Gintonin-mediated I ( NMDA ) enhancement was blocked by Ki16425, an LPA1/3 receptor antagonist. Gintonin action was blocked by a PLC inhibitor, IP? receptor antagonist, Ca²? chelator, and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. The site-directed mutation of Ser1308 of the NMDA receptor, which is phosphorylated by protein kinase C (PKC), to an Ala residue, or co-expression of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase with the NMDA receptor attenuated gintonin action. Moreover, gintonin treatment elicited a transient elevation of [Ca²?](i) in cultured hippocampal neurons and elevated longterm potentiation (LTP) in both concentration-dependent manners in rat hippocampal slices. Gintonin-mediated LTP induction was abolished by Ki16425. These results indicate that gintonin-mediated I ( NMDA ) potentiation and LTP induction in the hippocampus via the activation of LPA receptor might be responsible for ginseng-mediated improvement of memory-related brain functions.
NMDA receptors (NMDARs) are critical to synaptogenesis, neural circuitry and higher cognitive functions. A hallmark feature of NMDARs is an early postnatal developmental switch from those containing primarily GluN2B to primarily GluN2A subunits. Although the switch in phenotype has been an area of intense interest for two decades, the mechanisms that trigger it and the link between experience and the switch are unclear. Here we show a new role for the transcriptional repressor REST in the developmental switch of synaptic NMDARs. REST is activated at a critical window of time and acts via epigenetic remodeling to repress Grin2b expression and alter NMDAR properties at rat hippocampal synapses. Knockdown of REST in vivo prevented the decline in GluN2B and developmental switch in NMDARs. Maternal deprivation impaired REST activation and acquisition of the mature NMDAR phenotype. Thus, REST is essential for experience-dependent fine-tuning of genes involved in synaptic plasticity.
Epigenetic remodeling and modifications of chromatin structure by DNA methylation and histone modifications represent central mechanisms for the regulation of neuronal gene expression during brain development, higher-order processing, and memory formation. Emerging evidence implicates epigenetic modifications not only in normal brain function, but also in neuropsychiatric disorders. This review focuses on recent findings that disruption of chromatin modifications have a major role in the neurodegeneration associated with ischemic stroke and epilepsy. Although these disorders differ in their underlying causes and pathophysiology, they share a common feature, in that each disorder activates the gene silencing transcription factor REST (repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor), which orchestrates epigenetic remodeling of a subset of transcriptionally responsive targets implicated in neuronal death. Although ischemic insults activate REST in selectively vulnerable neurons in the hippocampal CA1, seizures activate REST in CA3 neurons destined to die. Profiling the array of genes that are epigenetically dysregulated in response to neuronal insults is likely to advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of these disorders and may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic strategies for the amelioration of these serious human conditions.
Translational control of mRNAs in dendrites is essential for certain forms of synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. CPEB is an RNA-binding protein that regulates local translation in dendrites. Here, we identify poly(A) polymerase Gld2, deadenylase PARN, and translation inhibitory factor neuroguidin (Ngd) as components of a dendritic CPEB-associated polyadenylation apparatus. Synaptic stimulation induces phosphorylation of CPEB, PARN expulsion from the ribonucleoprotein complex, and polyadenylation in dendrites. A screen for mRNAs whose polyadenylation is altered by Gld2 depletion identified >100 transcripts including one encoding NR2A, an NMDA receptor subunit. shRNA depletion studies demonstrate that Gld2 promotes and Ngd inhibits dendritic NR2A expression. Finally, shRNA-mediated depletion of Gld2 in vivo attenuates protein synthesis-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) at hippocampal dentate gyrus synapses; conversely, Ngd depletion enhances LTP. These results identify a pivotal role for polyadenylation and the opposing effects of Gld2 and Ngd in hippocampal synaptic plasticity.
Transient global forebrain ischemia causes selective, delayed death of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, and the ovarian hormone 17?-estradiol (E2) reduces neuronal loss in young and middle-aged females. The neuroprotective efficacy of E2 after a prolonged period of hormone deprivation is controversial, and few studies examine this issue in aged animals given E2 treatment after induction of ischemia.
Ginsenosides are low molecular weight glycosides found in ginseng that exhibit neuroprotective effects through inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor channel activity. Ginsenosides, like other natural compounds, are metabolized by gastric juices and intestinal microorganisms to produce ginsenoside metabolites. However, little is known about how ginsenoside metabolites regulate NMDA receptor channel activity. In the present study, we investigated the effects of ginsenoside metabolites, such as compound K (CK), protopanaxadiol (PPD), and protopanaxatriol (PPT), on oocytes that heterologously express the rat NMDA receptor. NMDA receptor-mediated ion current (I(NMDA)) was measured using the 2-electrode voltage clamp technique. In oocytes injected with cRNAs encoding NMDA receptor subunits, PPT, but not CK or PPD, reversibly inhibited I(NMDA) in a concentration-dependent manner. The IC(50) for PPT on I(NMDA) was 48.1±4.6 µM, was non-competitive with NMDA, and was independent of the membrane holding potential. These results demonstrate the possibility that PPT interacts with the NMDA receptor, although not at the NMDA binding site, and that the inhibitory effects of PPT on I(NMDA) could be related to ginseng-mediated neuroprotection.
Dysregulation of the transcriptional repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor (REST)/neuron-restrictive silencer factor is important in a broad range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The role of REST-dependent epigenetic modifications in neurodegeneration is less clear. Here, we show that neuronal insults trigger activation of REST and CoREST in a clinically relevant model of ischemic stroke and that REST binds a subset of "transcriptionally responsive" genes (gria2, grin1, chrnb2, nefh, nf?b2, trpv1, chrm4, and syt6), of which the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 is a top hit. Genes with enriched REST exhibited decreased mRNA and protein. We further show that REST assembles with CoREST, mSin3A, histone deacetylases 1 and 2, histone methyl-transferase G9a, and methyl CpG binding protein 2 at the promoters of target genes, where it orchestrates epigenetic remodeling and gene silencing. RNAi-mediated depletion of REST or administration of dominant-negative REST delivered directly into the hippocampus in vivo prevents epigenetic modifications, restores gene expression, and rescues hippocampal neurons. These findings document a causal role for REST-dependent epigenetic remodeling in the neurodegeneration associated with ischemic stroke and identify unique therapeutic targets for the amelioration of hippocampal injury and cognitive deficits.
Transient global ischemia in rats induces delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons. Early events include caspase activation, cleavage of anti-death Bcl-2 family proteins and large mitochondrial channel activity. However, whether these events have a causal role in ischemia-induced neuronal death is unclear. We found that the Bcl-2 and Bcl-x(L) inhibitor ABT-737, which enhances death of tumor cells, protected rats against neuronal death in a clinically relevant model of brain ischemia. Bcl-x(L) is prominently expressed in adult neurons and can be cleaved by caspases to generate a pro-death fragment, ?N-Bcl-x(L). We found that ABT-737 administered before or after ischemia inhibited ?N-Bcl-x(L)-induced mitochondrial channel activity and neuronal death. To establish a causal role for ?N-Bcl-x(L), we generated knock-in mice expressing a caspase-resistant form of Bcl-x(L). The knock-in mice exhibited markedly reduced mitochondrial channel activity and reduced vulnerability to ischemia-induced neuronal death. These findings suggest that truncated Bcl-x(L) could be a potentially important therapeutic target in ischemic brain injury.
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