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J Neurosci. 2004 Jun 9;24(23):5381-90.

Regulation of synaptic strength and AMPA receptor subunit composition by PICK1.

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Medical Research Council Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, United Kingdom.


PICK1 (protein interacting with C kinase-1) regulates the surface expression of the AMPA receptor (AMPAR) GluR2 subunit, however, the functional consequences of this interaction are not well understood. Previous work has suggested that PICK1 promotes the internalization of AMPARs. However, we found that when PICK1 is virally expressed in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices, it causes an increase in AMPAR-mediated EPSC amplitude. This effect is associated with increased AMPAR rectification and sensitivity to polyamine toxin. These effects are blocked by PKC or calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II inhibitors, indicating that the virally expressed PICK1 signals through an endogenous kinase cascade. In contrast, blockade of interactions with GluR2 at the N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor site did not cause a change in subunit composition, suggesting that the effects of PICK1 are not simply a nonspecific consequence of removing AMPARs from the surface. Immunocytochemical and biochemical analyses in dissociated cultured hippocampal neurons show that PICK1 causes a decrease in endogenous GluR2 surface expression but no change in GluR1 surface levels. To address the physiological role of PICK1, we virally expressed C-terminal GluR2 peptides. Blockade of endogenous PICK1 PDZ (postsynaptic density-95/Discs large/zona occludens-1) domain interactions produced opposite effects on synaptic strength and AMPAR rectification to those observed with PICK1 expression. This demonstrates that AMPAR subunit composition is physiologically regulated through a mechanism involving PICK1 PDZ domain interactions. These findings suggest that PICK1 acts to downregulate the GluR2 content of AMPARs at hippocampal CA1 synapses, thereby increasing synaptic strength at resting membrane potentials.

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