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Novel approach to probe subunit-specific contributions to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor trafficking reveals a dominant role for NR2B in receptor recycling.

ABSTRACT: N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are expressed at excitatory synapses throughout the brain and are essential for neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. Functional NMDA receptors are tetramers, typically composed of NR1 and NR2 subunits (NR2A-D). NR2A and NR2B are expressed in the forebrain and are thought to assemble as diheteromers (NR1/NR2A, NR1/NR2B) and triheteromers (NR1/NR2A/NR2B). NR2A and NR2B contain cytosolic domains that regulate distinct postendocytic sorting events, with NR2A sorting predominantly into the degradation pathway, and NR2B preferentially trafficking through the recycling pathway. However, the interplay between these two subunits remains an open question. We have now developed a novel approach based on the dimeric feature of the alpha- and beta-chains of the human major histocompatibility complex class II molecule. We created chimeras of alpha- and beta-chains with the NR2A and NR2B C termini and evaluated endocytosis of dimers. Like chimeric proteins containing only a single NR2A or NR2B C-terminal domain, major histocompatibility complex class II-NR2A homodimers sort predominantly to late endosomes, whereas NR2B homodimers traffic to recycling endosomes. Interestingly, NR2A/NR2B heterodimers traffic preferentially through the recycling pathway, and NR2B is dominant in regulating dimer trafficking in both heterologous cells and neurons. In addition, the recycling of NR2B-containing NMDARs in wild-type neurons is not significantly different from NR2A(-/-) neurons. These data support a dominant role for NR2B in regulating the trafficking of triheteromeric NMDARs in vivo. Furthermore, our molecular approach allows for the direct and selective evaluation of dimeric assemblies and can be used to define dominant trafficking domains in other multisubunit protein complexes.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC2898322 | BioStudies | 2010-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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