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J Physiol. 2004 Feb 1;554(Pt 3):765-77. Epub 2003 Nov 28.

Group II metabotropic glutamate receptors enhance NMDA receptor currents via a protein kinase C-dependent mechanism in pyramidal neurones of rat prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


The action of glutamate in CNS is mediated by the activation of metabotropic and ionotropic receptors. The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are highly enriched in prefrontal cortex (PFC) - a brain region critically involved in the regulation of cognition and emotion. Emerging evidence has suggested that mGluRs are viable drug targets for neuropsychiatric disorders associated with PFC dysfunction. However, the mGluR-mediated signalling in PFC remains unclear. To understand the physiological functions of postsynaptic group II mGluRs (mGluR2/3) in PFC neurones, we investigated the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the regulation of NMDA receptor channels by group II mGluRs. We found that APDC, a highly selective and potent group II mGluR agonist, reversibly increased NMDAR currents in acutely dissociated PFC pyramidal neurones. Selective group II mGluR antagonists, but not group I mGluR antagonists, blocked APDC-induced enhancement of NMDAR currents, suggesting the mediation by mGluR2/3 receptors. The APDC effect on NMDAR currents was independent of Mg(2+) block or membrane voltages, and primarily targeted NR2A subunits containing NMDARs. While changing protein kinase A levels was without effect, inhibiting protein kinase C (PKC) or dialysis with Ca(2+) chelators largely blocked the mGluR2/3 modulation of NMDAR currents. In contrast, inhibiting protein tyrosine kinases, cyclin-dependent kinase 5, Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase II or the Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin failed to do so. Moreover, treatment of PFC slices with APDC significantly increased the PKC activity and PKC phosphorylation of NMDA receptors. These findings suggest that activation of mGluR2/3 receptors potentiates NMDAR channel functions in PFC through a PKC-dependent mechanism. This modulation may be relevant for developing novel mGluR-related pharmacological agents for the treatment of mental illnesses.

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