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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Dec 21;107(51):22278-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914064107. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

MHC class I modulates NMDA receptor function and AMPA receptor trafficking.

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Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Neurobiology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0366, USA.


Proteins of the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) are known for their role in immunity and have recently been implicated in long-term plasticity of excitatory synaptic transmission. However, the mechanisms by which MHCI influences synaptic plasticity remain unknown. Here we show that endogenous MHCI regulates synaptic responses mediated by NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs) in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). The AMPA/NMDA ratio is decreased at MHCI-deficient hippocampal synapses, reflecting an increase in NMDAR-mediated currents. This enhanced NMDAR response is not associated with changes in the levels, subunit composition, or gross subcellular distribution of NMDARs. Increased NMDAR-mediated currents in MHCI-deficient neurons are associated with characteristic changes in AMPA receptor trafficking in response to NMDAR activation. Thus, endogenous MHCI tonically inhibits NMDAR function and controls downstream NMDAR-induced AMPA receptor trafficking during the expression of plasticity.

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