Super-resolution imaging reveals differential organization and regulation of NMDA receptor subtypes

Abstract : NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs) are a type of ion permeable channels playing critical roles in excitatory neurotransmission in the central nervous system by mediating different forms of synaptic plasticity, a mechanism thought to be the molecular basis of neuronal development, learning and memory formation. NMDARs form tetramers in the postsynaptic membrane, most generally associating two obligatory GluN1 subunits and two modulatory GluN2 (GluN2A-D) or GluN3 (GluN3A-B) subunits. In the hippocampus, the dominant GluN2 subunits are GluN2A and GluN2B, displaying different expression patterns, with GluN2B being highly expressed in early development while GluN2A levels increase gradually during postnatal development. In the forebrain, the plastic processes mediated by NMDARs, such as the adaptation of glutamate synapses and excitatory neuronal networks, mostly rely on the relative implication of GluN2A- and GluN2B-containing NMDARs that have different signaling properties. Although the molecular regulation of synaptic NMDARs has been under intense investigation over the last decades, the exact topology of these two subtypes within the postsynaptic membrane has remained elusive. Here we used a combination of super-resolution microscopy techniques such as direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) and stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy to characterize the surface distribution of GluN2A- or GluN2B-containing NMDARs. Both dSTORM and STED microscopy, based on different principles, enable to overcome the resolution barrier due to the diffraction limit of light. Using these techniques, we here unveil a differential nanoscale organization of native GluN2A- and GluN2B-NMDARs in rat hippocampal neurons. Both NMDAR subtypes are organized in nanoscale structures (termed nanodomains) that differ in their number, area, and shape. These observed differences are also maintained in synaptic structures. During development of hippocampal cultures, the membrane organization of both NMDAR subtypes evolves, with marked changes for the topology of GluN2A-NMDARs. Furthermore, GluN2A- and GluN2B-NMDAR nanoscale organizations are differentially affected by alterations of either interactions with PDZ scaffold proteins or CaMKII activity. The regulation of GluN2A-NMDARs mostly implicates changes in the number of receptors in fixed nanodomains, whereas the regulation of GluN2B-NMDARs mostly implicates changes in the nanodomain topography with fixed numbers of receptors. Thus, GluN2A- and GluN2B-NMDARs have distinct organizations in the postsynaptic membrane, likely implicating different regulatory pathways and signaling complexes.
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Blanka Kellermayer. Super-resolution imaging reveals differential organization and regulation of NMDA receptor subtypes. Neuroscience. Université de Bordeaux; Universidade de Coimbra, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018BORD0005⟩. ⟨tel-02181869⟩

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