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J Neurosci. 2005 Feb 16;25(7):1654-63.

A novel pathway for presynaptic mitogen-activated kinase activation via AMPA receptors.

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  • 1Department of Medical Pharmacology, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Institute of Neuroscience, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Center of Excellence on Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Milan, 20129 Milan, Italy.


AMPA-type glutamate receptors play a key role in mediating postsynaptic responses of excitatory neurotransmitters. It is now well accepted that AMPA receptors are also present at the presynapse, where they are thought to modulate neurotransmitter release. However, the mechanisms through which they control synaptic vesicle traffic have remained elusive. We used cultured hippocampal neurons and growth cone particles prepared from fetal rat brain to investigate the functional role of presynaptic AMPA receptors. We show here that stimulation of presynaptic AMPA receptors induces activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) through a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase-dependent and Na+/Ca2+-independent mechanism. This pathway is activated predominantly in axonal growth cones compared with the somatodendritic compartment. After stimulation of presynaptic AMPA receptors, synapsin I is phosphorylated at MAPK-specific sites. These events are paralleled by a prominent increase in evoked synaptic vesicle recycling that is blocked by the specific MAPK inhibitor 2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one. Similarly, in synaptosomes isolated from adult brain, AMPA stimulation induces MAPK activation and phosphorylation of synapsin I at MAPK-dependent sites and enhances significantly synaptic vesicle recycling. These results reveal a novel pathway for activation of presynaptic MAPK and suggest a role of this pathway in the regulation of short-term presynaptic plasticity.

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