Section 10
Chapter 9,074

N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activation and visual activity induce elongation factor-2 phosphorylation in amphibian tecta: A role for N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in controlling protein synthesis

Scheetz, A.J.; Nairn, A., C.; Constantine-Paton, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 94(26): 14770-14775


ISSN/ISBN: 0027-8424
DOI: 10.2307/43693
Accession: 009073182

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N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activation has been implicated in forms of synaptic plasticity involving long-term changes in neuronal structure, function, or protein expression. Transcriptional alterations have been correlated with NMDAR-mediated synaptic plasticity, but the problem of rapidly targeting new proteins to particular synapses is unsolved. One potential solution is synapse-specific protein translation, which is suggested by dendritic localization of numerous transcripts and subsynaptic polyribosomes. We report here a mechanism by which NMDAR activation at synapses may control this protein synthetic machinery. In intact tadpole tecta, NMDAR activation leads to phosphorylation of a subset of proteins, one of which we now identify as the eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2 (eEF2). Phosphorylation of eEF2 halts protein synthesis and may prepare cells to translate a new set of mRNAs. We show that NMDAR activation-induced eEF2 phosphorylation is widespread in tadpole tecta. In contrast, in adult tecta, where synaptic plasticity is reduced, this phosphorylation is restricted to short dendritic regions that process binocular information. Biochemical and anatomical evidence shows that this NMDAR activation-induced eEF2 phosphorylation is localized to subsynaptic sites. Moreover, eEF2 phosphorylation is induced by visual stimulation, and NMDAR blockade before stimulation eliminates this effect. Thus, NMDAR activation, which is known to mediate synaptic changes in the developing frog, could produce local postsynaptic alterations in protein synthesis by inducing eEF2 phosphorylation.

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