The NMDA receptor GluN2C subunit controls cortical excitatory-inhibitory balance, neuronal oscillations and cognitive function.
ABSTRACT: Despite strong evidence for NMDA receptor (NMDAR) hypofunction as an underlying factor for cognitive disorders, the precise roles of various NMDAR subtypes remains unknown. The GluN2C-containing NMDARs exhibit unique biophysical properties and expression pattern, and lower expression of GluN2C subunit has been reported in postmortem brains from schizophrenia patients. We found that loss of GluN2C subunit leads to a shift in cortical excitatory-inhibitory balance towards greater inhibition. Specifically, pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of GluN2C knockout mice have reduced mEPSC frequency and dendritic spine density and a contrasting higher frequency of mIPSCs. In addition a greater number of perisomatic GAD67 puncta was observed suggesting a potential increase in parvalbumin interneuron inputs. At a network level the GluN2C knockout mice were found to have a more robust increase in power of oscillations in response to NMDAR blocker MK-801. Furthermore, GluN2C heterozygous and knockout mice exhibited abnormalities in cognition and sensorimotor gating. Our results demonstrate that loss of GluN2C subunit leads to cortical excitatory-inhibitory imbalance and abnormal neuronal oscillations associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Project description:Thalamus and cortex represent a highly integrated processing unit that elaborates sensory representations. Interposed between cortex and thalamus, the nucleus Reticularis thalami (nRt) receives strong cortical glutamatergic input and mediates top-down inhibitory feedback to thalamus. Despite growing appreciation that the nRt is integral for thalamocortical functions from sleep to attentional wakefulness, we still face considerable gaps in the synaptic bases for cortico-nRt communication and plastic regulation. Here, we examined modulation of nRt excitability by cortical synaptic drive in Ntsr1-Cre x ChR2tg/+ mice expressing Channelrhodopsin2 in layer 6 corticothalamic cells. We found that cortico-nRt synapses express a major portion of NMDA receptors containing the GluN2C subunit (GluN2C-NMDARs). Upon repetitive photoactivation (10?Hz trains), GluN2C-NMDARs induced a long-term increase in nRt excitability involving a potentiated recruitment of T-type Ca2+ channels. In anaesthetized mice, analogous stimulation of cortical afferents onto nRt produced long-lasting changes in cortical local field potentials (LFPs), with delta oscillations being augmented at the expense of slow oscillations. This shift in LFP spectral composition was sensitive to NMDAR blockade in the nRt. Our data reveal a novel mechanism involving plastic modification of synaptically recruited T-type Ca2+ channels and nRt bursting and indicate a critical role for GluN2C-NMDARs in thalamocortical rhythmogenesis.
Project description:Post-ischemic activation of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) has been linked to NMDAR subunit-specific signaling that mediates pro-survival or pro-death activity. Although extensive studies have been performed to characterize the role of GluN2A and GluN2B following ischemia, there is less understanding regarding the regulation of GluN2C. Here, we show that GluN2C expression is increased in acute hippocampal slices in response to ischemia. Strikingly, GluN2C knockout mice, following global cerebral ischemia, exhibit greater neuronal death in the CA1 area of the hippocampus and reduced spatial working memory compared to wild-type mice. Moreover, we find that GluN2C-expressing hippocampal neurons show marked resistance to NMDA-induced toxicity and reduced calcium influx. Using both in vivo and in vitro experimental models of ischemia, we demonstrate a neuroprotective role of GluN2C, suggesting a mechanism by which GluN2C is upregulated to promote neuronal survival following ischemia. These results may provide insights into development of NMDAR subunit-specific therapeutic strategies to protect neurons from excitotoxicity.
Project description:NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs) are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate excitatory neurotransmission in the CNS. Here we describe functional and single-channel properties of triheteromeric GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C receptors, which contain two GluN1, one GluN2A, and one GluN2C subunits. This NMDAR has three conductance levels and opens in bursts similar to GluN1/GluN2A receptors but with a single-channel open time and open probability reminiscent of GluN1/GluN2C receptors. The deactivation time course of GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C receptors is intermediate to GluN1/GluN2A and GluN1/GluN2C receptors and is not dominated by GluN2A or GluN2C. We show that triheteromeric GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C receptors are the predominant NMDARs in cerebellar granule cells and propose that co-expression of GluN2A and GluN2C in cerebellar granule cells occludes cell surface expression of diheteromeric GluN1/GluN2C receptors. This new insight into neuronal GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C receptors highlights the complexity of NMDAR signaling in the CNS.
Project description:Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), caused by dominant mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 tumour suppressor genes is characterized by the presence of brain malformations, the cortical tubers that are thought to contribute to the generation of pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Here we report that tuberless heterozygote Tsc1(+/-) mice show functional upregulation of cortical GluN2C-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) in an mTOR-dependent manner and exhibit recurrent, unprovoked seizures during early postnatal life (<P19). Seizures are generated intracortically in the granular layer of the neocortex. Slow kinetics of aberrant GluN2C-mediated currents in spiny stellate cells promotes excessive temporal integration of persistent NMDAR-mediated recurrent excitation and seizure generation. Accordingly, specific GluN2C/D antagonists block seizures in Tsc1(+/-) mice in vivo and in vitro. Likewise, GluN2C expression is upregulated in TSC human surgical resections, and a GluN2C/D antagonist reduces paroxysmal hyperexcitability. Thus, GluN2C receptor constitutes a promising molecular target to treat epilepsy in TSC patients.
Project description:Acute ketamine administration evokes rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant patients. However, ketamine also produces transient perceptual disturbances similarly to those evoked by other non-competitive NMDA-R antagonists like phencyclidine (PCP). Although the brain networks involved in both ketamine actions are not fully understood, PCP and ketamine activate thalamo-cortical networks after NMDA-R blockade in GABAergic neurons of the reticular thalamic nucleus (RtN). Given the involvement of thalamo-cortical networks in processing sensory information, these networks may underlie psychotomimetic action. Since the GluN2C subunit is densely expressed in the thalamus, including the RtN, we examined the dependence of psychotomimetic and antidepressant-like actions of ketamine on the presence of GluN2C subunits, using wild-type and GluN2C knockout (GluN2CKO) mice. Likewise, since few studies have investigated ketamine's effects in females, we used mice of both sexes. GluN2C deletion dramatically reduced stereotyped (circling) behavior induced by ketamine in male and female mice, while the antidepressant-like effect was fully preserved in both genotypes and sexes. Despite ketamine appeared to induce similar effects in both sexes, some neurobiological differences were observed between male and female mice regarding c-fos expression in thalamic nuclei and cerebellum, and glutamate surge in prefrontal cortex. In conclusion, the GluN2C subunit may discriminate between antidepressant-like and psychotomimetic actions of ketamine. Further, the abundant presence of GluN2C subunits in the cerebellum and the improved motor coordination of GluN2CKO mice after ketamine treatment suggest the involvement of cerebellar NMDA-Rs in some behavioral actions of ketamine.
Project description:The GluN2C- and GluN2D-containing NMDA receptors are distinct from GluN2A- and GluN2B-containing receptors in many aspects including lower sensitivity to Mg<sup>2+</sup> block and lack of desensitization. Recent studies have highlighted the unique contribution of GluN2C and GluN2D subunits in various aspects of neuronal and circuit function and behavior, however a direct comparison of the effect of ablation of these subunits in mice on pure background strain has not been conducted. Using knockout-first strains for the GRIN2C and GRIN2D produced on pure C57BL/6N strain, we compared the effect of partial or complete ablation of GluN2C and GluN2D subunit on various behaviors relevant to mental disorders. A large number of behaviors described previously in GluN2C and GluN2D knockout mice were reproduced in these mice, however, some specific differences were also observed possibly representing strain effects. We also examined the response to NMDA receptor channel blockers in these mouse strains and surprisingly found that unlike previous reports GluN2D knockout mice were not resistant to phencyclidine-induced hyperlocomotion. Interestingly, the GluN2C knockout mice showed reduced sensitivity to phencyclidine-induced hyperlocomotion. We also found that NMDA receptor channel blocker produced a deficit in prepulse inhibition which was prevented by a GluN2C/2D potentiator in wildtype and GluN2C heterozygous mice but not in GluN2C knockout mice. Together these results demonstrate a unique role of GluN2C subunit in schizophrenia-like behaviors.
Project description:N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are ionotropic glutamate receptors that mediate excitatory synaptic transmission and have been implicated in numerous neurological disorders. NMDARs typically comprise two GluN1 and two GluN2 subunits. The four GluN2 subtypes (GluN2A-GluN2D) have distinct functional properties and gene expression patterns, which contribute to diverse functional roles for NMDARs in the brain. Here, we present a series of GluN2C/2D-selective negative allosteric modulators built around a N-aryl benzamide (NAB) core. The prototypical compound, NAB-14, is >800-fold selective for recombinant GluN2C/GluN2D over GluN2A/GluN2B in Xenopus oocytes and has an IC50 value of 580 nM at recombinant GluN2D-containing receptors expressed in mammalian cells. NAB-14 inhibits triheteromeric (GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C) NMDARs with modestly reduced potency and efficacy compared to diheteromeric (GluN1/GluN2C/GluN2C) receptors. Site-directed mutagenesis suggests that structural determinants for NAB-14 inhibition reside in the GluN2D M1 transmembrane helix. NAB-14 inhibits GluN2D-mediated synaptic currents in rat subthalamic neurons and mouse hippocampal interneurons, but has no effect on synaptic transmission in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, which do not express GluN2C or GluN2D. This series possesses some druglike physical properties and modest brain permeability in rat and mouse. Altogether, this work identifies a new series of negative allosteric modulators that are valuable tools for studying GluN2C- and GluN2D-containing NMDAR function in brain circuits, and suggests that the series has the potential to be developed into therapies for selectively modulating brain circuits involving the GluN2C and GluN2D subunits.
Project description:N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are ligand-gated, cation-selective channels that mediate a slow component of excitatory synaptic transmission. Subunit-selective positive allosteric modulators of NMDA receptor function have therapeutically relevant effects on multiple processes in the brain. A series of pyrrolidinones, such as PYD-106, that selectively potentiate NMDA receptors that contain the GluN2C subunit have structural determinants of activity that reside between the GluN2C amino terminal domain and the GluN2C agonist binding domain, suggesting a unique site of action. Here we use molecular biology and homology modeling to identify residues that line a candidate binding pocket for GluN2C-selective pyrrolidinones. We also show that occupancy of only one site in diheteromeric receptors is required for potentiation. Both GluN2A and GluN2B can dominate the sensitivity of triheteromeric receptors to eliminate the actions of pyrrolidinones, thus rendering this series uniquely sensitive to subunit stoichiometry. We experimentally identified NMR-derived conformers in solution, which combined with molecular modeling allows the prediction of the bioactive binding pose for this series of GluN2C-selective positive allosteric modulators of NMDA receptors. These data advance our understanding of the site and nature of the ligand-protein interaction for GluN2C-selective positive allosteric modulators for NMDA receptors.
Project description:NMDA receptors are tetrameric complexes composed of GluN1 and GluN2A-D subunits that mediate a slow Ca(2+)-permeable component of excitatory synaptic transmission. NMDA receptors have been implicated in a wide range of neurological diseases and thus represent an important therapeutic target. We herein describe a novel series of pyrrolidinones that selectively potentiate only NMDA receptors that contain the GluN2C subunit. The most active analogues tested were over 100-fold selective for recombinant GluN2C-containing receptors over GluN2A/B/D-containing NMDA receptors as well as AMPA and kainate receptors. This series represents the first class of allosteric potentiators that are selective for diheteromeric GluN2C-containing NMDA receptors.
Project description:N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are widely distributed in the brain with high concentrations in the telencephalon where they modulate synaptic plasticity, working memory, and other functions. While the actions of the predominate GluN2 NMDAR subunits, GluN2A and GluN2B are relatively well understood, the function of GluN2C and GluN2D subunits in the telencephalon is largely unknown. To better understand the possible role of GluN2C subunits, we used fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) together with multiple cell markers to define the distribution and type of cells expressing GluN2C mRNA. Using a GluN2C-KO mouse as a negative control, GluN2C mRNA expression was only found in non-neuronal cells (NeuN-negative cells) in the hippocampus, striatum, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. For these regions, a significant fraction of GFAP-positive cells also expressed GluN2C mRNA. Overall, for the telencephalon, the globus pallidus and olfactory bulb were the only regions where GluN2C was expressed in neurons. In contrast to GluN2C, GluN2D subunit mRNA colocalized with neuronal and not astrocyte markers or GluN2C mRNA in the telencephalon (except for the globus pallidus). GluN2C mRNA did, however, colocalize with GluN2D in the thalamus where neuronal GluN2C expression is found. These findings strongly suggest that GluN2C has a very distinct function in the telencephalon compared to its role in other brain regions and compared to other GluN2-containing NMDARs. NMDARs containing GluN2C may have a specific role in regulating L-glutamate or D-serine release from astrocytes in response to L-glutamate spillover from synaptic activity.