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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 18;277(42):39944-52. Epub 2002 Aug 7.

Reelin and ApoE receptors cooperate to enhance hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning.

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  • 1Division of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Two apolipoprotein E (apoE) receptors, the very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) receptor and apoE receptor 2 (apoER2), are also receptors for Reelin, a signaling protein that regulates neuronal migration during brain development. In the adult brain, Reelin is expressed by GABA-ergic interneurons, suggesting a potential function as a modulator of neurotransmission. ApoE receptors have been indirectly implicated in memory and neurodegenerative disorders because their ligand, apoE, is genetically associated with Alzheimer disease. We have used knockout mice to investigate the role of Reelin and its receptors in cognition and synaptic plasticity. Mice lacking either the VLDL receptor or the apoER2 show contextual fear conditioning deficits. VLDL receptor-deficient mice also have a moderate defect in long term potentiation (LTP), and apoER2 knockouts have a pronounced one. The perfusion of mouse hippocampal slices with Reelin has no effect on baseline synaptic transmission but significantly enhances LTP in area CA1. This Reelin-dependent augmentation of LTP is abolished in VLDL receptor and apoER2 knockout mice. Our results reveal a role for Reelin in controlling synaptic plasticity in the adult brain and suggest that both of its receptors are necessary for Reelin-dependent enhancement of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Thus, the impairment of apoE receptor-dependent neuromodulation may contribute to cognitive impairment and synaptic loss in Alzheimer disease.

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