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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 20;104(47):18784-8. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

AMPA receptors and stargazin-like transmembrane AMPA receptor-regulatory proteins mediate hippocampal kainate neurotoxicity.

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Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Naturally occurring glutamate analogs, such as kainate and domoate, which cause excitotoxic shellfish poisoning, induce nondesensitizing responses at neuronal alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors. In addition to acting on AMPA receptors, kainate and domoate also activate high-affinity kainate-type glutamate receptors. The receptor type that mediates their neurotoxicity remains uncertain. Here, we show that the transmembrane AMPA receptor-associated protein (TARP) gamma-2 (or stargazin) and the related TARP gamma-8 augment responses to kainate and domoate by making these neurotoxins more potent and more efficacious AMPA receptor agonists. Genetic deletion of hippocampal enriched gamma-8 selectively abolishes sustained depolarizations in hippocampus mediated by kainate activation of AMPA receptors. gamma-8 knockout mice display typical kainate-induced seizures; however, the associated neuronal cell death in the hippocampus is attenuated in mice lacking gamma-8. This work decisively demonstrates that TARP-associated AMPA receptors mediate kainate neurotoxicity and identifies TARPs as targets for modulating neurotoxic properties of AMPA receptors.

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