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Neuron. 2005 Jan 6;45(1):81-94.

NMDA receptor-dependent activation of the small GTPase Rab5 drives the removal of synaptic AMPA receptors during hippocampal LTD.

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Neuroscience Program, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


The activity-dependent removal of AMPA receptors from synapses underlies long-term depression in hippocampal excitatory synapses. In this study, we have investigated the role of the small GTPase Rab5 during this process. We propose that Rab5 is a critical link between the signaling cascades triggered by LTD induction and the machinery that executes the activity-dependent removal of AMPA receptors. We have found that Rab5 activation drives the specific internalization of synaptic AMPA receptors in a clathrin-dependent manner and that this activity is required for LTD. Interestingly, Rab5 does not participate in the constitutive cycling of AMPA receptors. Rab5 is able to remove both GluR1 and GluR2 AMPA receptor subunits, leading to GluR1 dephosphorylation. Importantly, NMDA receptor-dependent LTD induction produces a rapid and transient increase of active (GTP bound) Rab5. We propose a model in which synaptic activity leads to Rab5 activation, which in turn drives the removal of AMPA receptors from synapses.

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