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J Neurosci. 2011 Mar 16;31(11):3939-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5134-10.2011.

Stargazin (TARP gamma-2) is required for compartment-specific AMPA receptor trafficking and synaptic plasticity in cerebellar stellate cells.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


In the cerebellar cortex, parallel fiber-to-stellate cell (PF-SC) synapses exhibit a form of synaptic plasticity manifested as a switch in the subunit composition of synaptic AMPA receptors (AMPARs) from calcium-permeable, GluA2-lacking to calcium-impermeable, GluA2-containing receptors. Here, we examine the role of stargazin (γ-2), canonical member of the transmembrane AMPAR regulatory protein (TARP) family, in the regulation of GluA2-lacking AMPARs and synaptic plasticity in SCs from epileptic and ataxic stargazer mutant mice. We found that AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission is severely diminished in stargazer SCs, and that the rectification index (RI) of AMPAR current is reduced. Activity-dependent plasticity in the rectification of synaptic AMPARs is also impaired in stargazer SCs. Despite the dramatic loss in synaptic AMPARs, extrasynaptic AMPARs are preserved. We then examined the role of stargazin in regulating the rectification of extrasynaptic AMPARs in nucleated patches and found, in contrast to previous reports, that wild-type extrasynaptic AMPARs have moderate RI values (average RI = 0.38), while those in stargazer SCs are low (average RI = 0.24). The GluA2-lacking AMPAR blocker, philanthotoxin-433 (PhTx-433), was used as an alternative measure of GluA2 content in wild-type and stargazer SCs. Despite the difference in RI, PhTx-433 sensitivity of both synaptic and extrasynaptic AMPARs remains unchanged, suggesting that the dramatic changes in RI and the impairment in synaptic plasticity observed in the stargazer mouse are not the result of a specific impairment in GluA2 trafficking. Together, these data suggest that stargazin regulates compartment-specific AMPAR trafficking, as well as activity-dependent plasticity in synaptic AMPAR rectification at cerebellar PF-SC synapses.

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