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J Biol Chem. 2003 Feb 21;278(8):6307-13. Epub 2002 Dec 5.

Protein kinase C gamma associates directly with the GluR4 alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptor subunit. Effect on receptor phosphorylation.

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  • 1Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology and Department of Biochemistry, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal.


Ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate the majority of excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain and are thought to be involved in learning and memory formation. The activity of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors can be regulated by direct phosphorylation of their subunits, which affects the electrophysiological properties of the receptor, and the receptor association with numerous proteins that modulate membrane traffic and synaptic targeting of the receptor. In the present study we investigated the association of protein kinase C (PKC) gamma isoform with the GluR4 AMPA receptor subunit. PKC gamma was co-immunoprecipitated with GluR4 AMPA receptor subunit in rat cerebellum and in cultured chick retina cell extracts, and immunocytochemistry experiments showed co-localization of GluR4 and PKC gamma in cultured chick retinal neurons. Pull-down assays showed that native PKC gamma binds the GluR4 C-terminal membrane-proximal region, and recombinant PKC gamma was retained by GST-GluR4 C-terminal fusion protein, suggesting that the kinase binds directly to GluR4. Furthermore, GST-GluR4 C-terminal protein was phosphorylated on GluR4 Ser-482 by bound kinases, retained by the fusion protein, including PKC gamma. The GluR4 C-terminal segment that interacts with PKC gamma, which lacks the PKC phosphorylation sites, inhibited histone H1 phosphorylation by PKC, to the same extent as the PKC pseudosubstrate peptide 19-31, indicating that PKC gamma bound to GluR4 preferentially phosphorylates GluR4 to the detriment of other substrates. Additionally, PKC gamma expression in GluR4 transfected human embryonic kidney 293T cells increased the amount of plasma membrane-associated GluR4. Our results suggest that PKC gamma binds directly to GluR4, thereby modulating the function of GluR4-containing AMPA receptors.

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