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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2001 Sep 10;93(1):8-17.

Involvement of non-NMDA receptors in the rescue of weaver cerebellar granule neurons and sensitivity to ethanol of cerebellar AMPA receptors in oocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Howard University College of Medicine, Suite 3408 NPG Adams Bldg., 520 W. Street N.W., Washington, DC 20059, USA.


The cellular mechanism responsible for the death of cerebellar granule neurons in the weaver mutant mouse is still being intensely investigated. To determine if alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) glutamate receptors are involved in producing the weaver phenotype or are altered by the weaver gene, we used (1) reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect transcripts of glutamate receptors (GluR1-4) from wild-type and mutant cerebella; (2) immunocytochemistry to establish the types of glutamate receptors present in granule neurons cultured from normal and homozygous weaver postnatal day 5-6 (P5-6) cerebella; (3) 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), a blocker of glutamate (AMPA/Kainate/NMDA) receptors, and 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (NBQX), a blocker of AMPA and kainate receptors, to assess the number of neurons and the number of neurons with long neurites in cultures of homozygous weaver granule neurons; (4) two-electrode voltage clamp recordings to study AMPA glutamate receptor expression in Xenopus oocytes after injection of mRNA isolated from cerebella of normal and weaver P5-6, postnatal day 10 (P10) and postnatal day 23 (P23) mice; and (5) ethanol, which at low 1-10 mM concentrations had been shown previously to rescue homozygous weaver granule neurons in culture [Liesi et al., J. Neurosci. Res. 48 (1997) 571-579], to examine its effect on modulation of AMPA receptors expressed from mRNA. By RT-PCR, the mRNA coding for AMPA receptor subunits GluR1-4 were detected from +/+ and wv/wv cerebella, and by immunocytochemistry, GluR1, GluR2/3 and GluR4 were observed to be expressed in cultured +/+ and wv/wv granule cells. CNQX at 10 microM or NBQX at 10 microM significantly increased the number of surviving neurons and the number with long neurites as compared to wv/wv controls. In addition, CNQX was significantly more effective than NBQX. In oocytes injected with mRNA from P10 normal or weaver cerebella, the amplitudes of the responses to kainate were about equal. In contrast, the amplitudes of the kainate-activated currents in oocytes injected with weaver P23 mRNA were about twice as large as the currents observed in oocytes injected with mRNA from normal P23 cerebella, and both were larger than kainate-activated currents observed after injection of P10 normal and weaver mRNA. Kainate-activated AMPA receptor currents in oocytes injected with mRNA from P10 and P23 normal and homozygous weaver cerebella were inhibited by ethanol. There were no significant differences in the inhibition produced by ethanol on currents from P10 or P23 normal and wv/wv mRNA. Thus, P23 weaver cerebellar mRNA expressed more kainate-activated current in oocytes than P23 normal cerebellar mRNA; both normal and weaver cerebellar granule neurons express mRNA coding for functional AMPA receptors that are susceptible to ethanol inhibition.

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