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J Neurotrauma. 2009 May;26(5):703-20. doi: 10.1089/neu.2008.0783.

A novel protein complex in membrane rafts linking the NR2B glutamate receptor and autophagy is disrupted following traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Hyperactivation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NRs) is associated with neuronal cell death induced by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and many neurodegenerative conditions. NR signaling efficiency is dependent on receptor localization in membrane raft microdomains. Recently, excitotoxicity has been linked to autophagy, but mechanisms governing signal transduction remain unclear. Here we have identified protein interactions between NR2B signaling intermediates and the autophagic protein Beclin-1 in membrane rafts of the normal rat cerebral cortex. Moderate TBI induced rapid recruitment and association of NR2B and pCaMKII to membrane rafts, and translocation of Beclin-1 out of membrane microdomains. Furthermore, TBI caused significant increases in expression of key autophagic proteins and morphological hallmarks of autophagy that were significantly attenuated by treatment with the NR2B antagonist Ro 25-6981. Thus, stimulation of autophagy by NR2B signaling may be regulated by redistribution of Beclin-1 in membrane rafts after TBI.

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