NMDA receptor subunit composition controls synaptogenesis and synapse stabilization.
ABSTRACT: During early postnatal development in the rat hippocampus, synaptogenesis occurs in parallel with a developmental switch in the subunit composition of NMDA receptors from NR2B to NR2A. It is unclear how this switch affects the process of synaptogenesis, synapse maturation, and synapse stabilization. We investigated the role of NR2 subunits in synaptogenesis during the period in which expression and synaptic incorporation of the NR2A protein begins through the time when it reaches adult levels. We found that early expression of NR2A in organotypic hippocampal slices reduces the number of synapses and the volume and dynamics of spines. In contrast, overexpression of NR2B does not affect the normal number and growth of synapses; however, it does increase spine motility, adding and retracting spines at a higher rate. The C terminus of NR2B, and specifically its ability to bind CaMKII, is sufficient to allow proper synapse formation and maturation. Conversely, the C terminus of NR2A was sufficient to stop the development of synapse number and spine growth. Our results indicate that the ratio of synaptic NR2B over NR2A controls spine motility and synaptogenesis, and suggest a structural role for the intracellular C terminus of NR2 in recruiting the signaling and scaffolding molecules necessary for proper synaptogenesis.
Project description:Membrane-associated guanylate kinases (MAGUKs) are major components of the postsynaptic density and play important roles in synaptic organization and plasticity. Most excitatory synapses are located on dendritic spines, which are dynamic structures that undergo morphological changes during synapse formation and plasticity. Synapse-associated protein 102 (SAP102) is a MAGUK that is highly expressed early in development and mediates receptor trafficking during synaptogenesis. Mutations in human SAP102 cause mental retardation, which is often accompanied with abnormalities in dendritic spines. However, little is known about the role of SAP102 in regulating synapse formation or spine morphology. We now find that SAP102 contains a novel NMDA receptor binding site in the N-terminal domain, which is specific for the NR2B subunit. The interaction between SAP102 and NR2B is PDZ (postsynaptic density-95/Discs large/zona occludens-1) domain independent and is regulated by alternative splicing of SAP102. We show that SAP102 that possesses an N-terminal insert is developmentally regulated at both mRNA and protein levels. In addition, expression of SAP102 increases synapse formation. Furthermore, the alternative splicing of SAP102 regulates dendritic spine morphology. SAP102 containing the N-terminal insert promotes lengthening of dendritic spines and preferentially promotes the formation of synapses at long spines, whereas a short hairpin RNA knockdown of the same SAP102 splice variant causes spine shrinkage. Finally, blocking NMDA receptor activity prevents the spine lengthening induced by the N-terminal splice variant of SAP102. Thus, our data provide the first evidence that SAP102 links NMDA receptor activation to alterations in spine morphology.
Project description:N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDARs) play a central role in development, synaptic plasticity, and neurological disease. NMDAR subunit composition defines their biophysical properties and downstream signaling. Casein kinase 2 (CK2) phosphorylates the NR2B subunit within its PDZ-binding domain; however, the consequences for NMDAR localization and function are unclear. Here we show that CK2 phosphorylation of NR2B regulates synaptic NR2B and NR2A in response to activity. We find that CK2 phosphorylates NR2B, but not NR2A, to drive NR2B-endocytosis and remove NR2B from synapses resulting in an increase in synaptic NR2A expression. During development there is an activity-dependent switch from NR2B to NR2A at cortical synapses. We observe an increase in CK2 expression and NR2B phosphorylation over this same critical period and show that the acute activity-dependent switch in NR2 subunit composition at developing hippocampal synapses requires CK2 activity. Thus, CK2 plays a central role in determining the NR2 subunit content of synaptic NMDARs.
Project description:In the cerebellum, lamellar Bergmann glial (BG) appendages wrap tightly around almost every Purkinje cell dendritic spine. The function of this glial ensheathment of spines is not entirely understood. The development of ensheathment begins near the onset of synaptogenesis, when motility of both BG processes and dendritic spines are high. By the end of the synaptogenic period, ensheathment is complete and motility of the BG processes decreases, correlating with the decreased motility of dendritic spines. We therefore have hypothesized that ensheathment is intimately involved in capping synaptogenesis, possibly by stabilizing synapses. To test this hypothesis, we misexpressed GluR2 in an adenoviral vector in BG towards the end of the synaptogenic period, rendering the BG ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) Ca2+-impermeable and causing glial sheath retraction. We then measured the resulting spine motility, spine density and synapse number. Although we found that decreasing ensheathment at this time does not alter spine motility, we did find a significant increase in both synaptic pucta and dendritic spine density. These results indicate that consistent spine coverage by BG in the cerebellum is not necessary for stabilization of spine dynamics, but is very important in the regulation of synapse number.
Project description:The development of glutamatergic synapses involves changes in the number and type of receptors present at the postsynaptic density. To elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying these changes, we combine in utero electroporation of constructs that alter the molecular composition of developing synapses with dual whole-cell electrophysiology to examine synaptic transmission during two distinct developmental stages. We find that SAP102 mediates synaptic trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors during synaptogenesis. Surprisingly, after synaptogenesis, PSD-95 assumes the functions of SAP102 and is necessary for two aspects of synapse maturation: the developmental increase in AMPA receptor transmission and replacement of NR2B-NMDARs with NR2A-NMDARs. In PSD-95/PSD-93 double-KO mice, the maturational replacement of NR2B- with NR2A-NMDARs fails to occur, and PSD-95 expression fully rescues this deficit. This study demonstrates that SAP102 and PSD-95 regulate the synaptic trafficking of distinct glutamate receptor subtypes at different developmental stages, thereby playing necessary roles in excitatory synapse development.
Project description:The NR2 subunit composition of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) varies during development, and this change is important in NMDAR-dependent signaling. In particular, synaptic NMDAR switch from containing mostly NR2B subunit to a mixture of NR2B and NR2A subunits. The pathways by which neurons differentially traffic NR2A- and NR2B-containing NMDARs are poorly understood. Using single-particle and -molecule approaches and specific antibodies directed against NR2A and NR2B extracellular epitopes, we investigated the surface mobility of native NR2A and NR2B subunits at the surface of cultured neurons. The surface mobility of NMDARs depends on the NR2 subunit subtype, with NR2A-containing NMDARs being more stable than NR2B-containing ones, and NR2A subunit overexpression stabilizes surface NR2B-containing NMDARs. The developmental change in the synaptic surface content of NR2A and NR2B subunits was correlated with a developmental change in the time spent by the subunits within synapses. This suggests that the switch in synaptic NMDAR subtypes depends on the regulation of the receptor surface trafficking.
Project description:Dendritic filopodia are dynamic protrusions that are thought to play an active role in synaptogenesis and serve as precursors to spine synapses. However, this hypothesis is largely based on a temporal correlation between filopodia formation and synaptogenesis. We investigated the role of filopodia in synapse formation by contrasting the roles of molecules that affect filopodia elaboration and motility, versus those that impact synapse induction and maturation. We used a filopodia inducing motif that is found in GAP-43, as a molecular tool, and found this palmitoylated motif enhanced filopodia number and motility, but reduced the probability of forming a stable axon-dendrite contact. Conversely, expression of neuroligin-1 (NLG-1), a synapse inducing cell adhesion molecule, resulted in a decrease in filopodia motility, but an increase in the number of stable axonal contacts. Moreover, RNAi knockdown of NLG-1 reduced the number of presynaptic contacts formed. Postsynaptic scaffolding proteins such as Shank1b, a protein that induces the maturation of spine synapses, increased the rate at which filopodia transformed into spines by stabilization of the initial contact with axons. Taken together, these results suggest that increased filopodia stability and not density, may be the rate-limiting step for synapse formation.
Project description:Dendritic spines of medium spiny neurons represent an essential site of information processing between NMDA and dopamine receptors in striatum. Even if activation of NMDA receptors in the striatum has important implications for synaptic plasticity and disease states, the contribution of specific NMDA receptor subunits still remains to be elucidated. Here, we show that treatment of corticostriatal slices with NR2A antagonist NVP-AAM077 or with NR2A blocking peptide induces a significant increase of spine head width. Sustained treatment with D1 receptor agonist (SKF38393) leads to a significant decrease of NR2A-containing NMDA receptors and to a concomitant increase of spine head width. Interestingly, co-treatment of corticostriatal slices with NR2A antagonist (NVP-AAM077) and D1 receptor agonist augmented the increase of dendritic spine head width as obtained with SKF38393. Conversely, NR2B antagonist (ifenprodil) blocked any morphological effect induced by D1 activation. These results indicate that alteration of NMDA receptor composition at the corticostriatal synapse contributes not only to the clinical features of disease states such as experimental parkinsonism but leads also to a functional and morphological outcome in dendritic spines of medium spiny neurons.
Project description:The relative content of NR2 subunits in the NMDA receptor confers specific signaling properties and plasticity to synapses. However, the mechanisms that dynamically govern the retention of synaptic NMDARs, in particular 2A-NMDARs, remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate the dynamic interaction between NR2 C termini and proteins containing PSD-95/Discs-large/ZO-1 homology (PDZ) scaffold proteins at the single molecule level by using high-resolution imaging. We report that a biomimetic divalent competing ligand, mimicking the last 15 amino acids of NR2A C terminus, specifically and efficiently disrupts the interaction between 2A-NMDARs, but not 2B-NMDARs, and PDZ proteins on the time scale of minutes. Furthermore, displacing 2A-NMDARs out of synapses lead to a compensatory increase in synaptic NR2B-NMDARs, providing functional evidence that the anchoring mechanism of 2A- or 2B-NMDARs is different. These data reveal an unexpected role of the NR2 subunit divalent arrangement in providing specific anchoring within synapses, highlighting the need to study such dynamic interactions in native conditions.
Project description:Reelin regulates neuronal positioning and synaptogenesis in the developing brain, and adult brain plasticity. Here we used transgenic mice overexpressing Reelin (Reelin-OE mice) to perform a comprehensive dissection of the effects of this protein on the structural and biochemical features of dendritic spines and axon terminals in the adult hippocampus. Electron microscopy (EM) revealed both higher density of synapses and structural complexity of both pre- and postsynaptic elements in transgenic mice than in WT mice. Dendritic spines had larger spine apparatuses, which correlated with a redistribution of Synaptopodin. Most of the changes observed in Reelin-OE mice were reversible after blockade of transgene expression, thus supporting the specificity of the observed phenotypes. Western blot and transcriptional analyses did not show major changes in the expression of pre- or postsynaptic proteins, including SNARE proteins, glutamate receptors, and scaffolding and signaling proteins. However, EM immunogold assays revealed that the NMDA receptor subunits NR2a and NR2b, and p-Cofilin showed a redistribution from synaptic to extrasynaptic pools. Taken together with previous studies, the present results suggest that Reelin regulates the structural and biochemical properties of adult hippocampal synapses by increasing their density and morphological complexity and by modifying the distribution and trafficking of major glutamatergic components.
Project description: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.