Journal of Neurophysiology

Phosphorylation-State-Dependent Regulation of NMDA Receptor Short-Term Plasticity Modifies Hippocampal Dendritic Ca2+ Transients

Debika Chatterjea, Edaeni Hamid, John P. Leonard, Simon Alford


N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated currents are enhanced by phosphorylation. We have investigated effects of phosphorylation-dependent short-term plasticity of NMDA receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) on the induction of long-term depression (LTD). We confirmed in whole cell clamped CA1 pyramidal neurons that LTD is induced by pairing stimulus protocols. However, after serine-threonine phosphorylation was modified by postsynaptic introduction of a protein phosphatase-1 (PP1) inhibitor, the same pairing protocol evoked long-term potentiation (LTP). We determined effects of modification of phosphatase activity on evoked NMDA EPSCs during LTD induction protocols. During LTD induction, using a protocol pairing depolarization to –40 mV and 0.5 Hz stimulation, NMDA receptor-mediated EPSCs undergo a short-term enhancement at the start of the protocol. In neurons in which PP1 activity was inhibited, this short-term enhancement was markedly amplified. We then investigated the effect of this enhancement on Ca2+ entry during the start of the LTD induction protocol. Enhancement of NMDA receptor-mediated responses was accompanied by an amplification of induction protocol-evoked Ca2+ transients. Furthermore, this amplification required synaptic activation during the protocol, consistent with an enhancement of Ca2+ entry mediated by NMDA receptor activation. The sign of NMDA receptor-mediated long-term plasticity, whether potentiation or depression depends on the amplitude of the synaptic Ca2+ transient during induction. We conclude that short-term phosphorylation-dependent plasticity of the NMDA receptor-mediated EPSCs contributes significantly to the effect of phosphatase inhibition on the subsequent induction of LTD or LTP.

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