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Neuron. 2003 Jun 5;38(5):759-71.

PDZ-containing proteins provide a functional postsynaptic scaffold for nicotinic receptors in neurons.

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Neurobiology Section, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Protein scaffolds are essential for specific and efficient downstream signaling at synapses. Though nicotinic receptors are widely expressed in the nervous system and influence numerous cellular events due in part to their calcium permeability, no scaffolds have yet been identified for the receptors in neurons. Here we show that specific members of the PSD-95 family of PDZ-containing proteins are associated with specific nicotinic receptor subtypes. At postsynaptic sites, the PDZ scaffolds are essential for maturation of functional nicotinic synapses on neurons. They also help mediate downstream signaling as exemplified by activation of transcription factors. By tethering components to postsynaptic nicotinic receptors, PDZ scaffolds can organize synaptic structure and determine which calcium-dependent processes will be subject to nicotinic modulation.

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