Regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function during the rearrangement of developing neuronal connections.
ABSTRACT There is evidence from a number of studies that the molecular and biophysical properties of NMDA receptors are altered during normal development. A temporal correlation with changes in NMDA receptor efficacy and periods of synaptic plasticity has been demonstrated in several systems, suggesting that NMDA receptors have a critical function in determining periods of synaptic plasticity. Data from our laboratory demonstrate reduced NMDA sensitivity of the tectal evoked potential following chronic application of NMDA to the tadpole tectum, a treatment that may mimic a naturally occurring mechanism for limiting neuronal plasticity to certain stages of development. Our analysis of the expression pattern of mRNA coding for various glutamate receptor subunits in the rat retinocollicular system establishes that differential regulation of NMDA receptor subunits at the mRNA level could be a molecular basis for changes in biophysical and pharmacological properties of the NMDA receptor complex. However, even though the NMDA receptor is the best studied candidate to function as a 'plasticity switch', there are large gaps in our understanding of the complete set of factors that control the ability of synapses to rearrange during development.
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ABSTRACT: We examined the developmental profile of excitotoxin-induced nuclear DNA fragmentation using the transferase dUTP nick-end labelling (TUNEL) technique, as a marker of DNA damage and cell death in rats with neonatal and adult excitotoxic lesions of the ventral hippocampus. We hypothesized that infusion of neurotoxin may result in a differential pattern of cell death in neonatally and adult lesioned rats, both in the infusion site and in remote brain regions presumably involved in mediating behavioural changes observed in these animals. Brains of rats lesioned at 7 days of age and in adulthood were collected at several survival times 1–21 days after the lesion. In the lesioned neonates 1–3 days postlesion, marked increases in TUNEL-positive cells occurred in the ventral hippocampus, the site of neurotoxin infusion, and in a wide surrounding area. Adult lesioned brains showed more positive cells than controls only at the infusion site. In the lesioned neonates, TUNEL-labelled cells were also present in the striatum and nucleus accumbens 1 day postlesion but not at later survival times. Our findings indicate that cell death in remote regions is more prominent in immature than adult brains, that it may lead to distinct alterations in development of these brain regions, and thus may be responsible for functional differences between neonatally and adult lesioned rats.European Journal of Neuroscience 11/2000; 12(12):4424 - 4433. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: During development, neuronal activity is used as a cue to guide synaptic rearrangements to refine connections. Many studies, especially in the visual system, have shown that the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) plays a key role in mediating activity-dependent refinement through long-term potentiation (LTP)-like processes. Adult goldfish can regenerate their optic nerve and utilize neuronal activity to generate precise topography in their projection onto tectum. Although the NMDAr has been implicated in this process, its precise role in regeneration has not been extensively studied. In examining NMDAr function during regeneration, we found salient differences compared with development. By using field excitatory postsynaptic potential (fEPSP) recordings, the contribution of the NMDAr at the primary optic synapse was measured. In contrast to development, no increase in NMDAr function was detectable during synaptic refinement. Unlike development, LTP could not be reliably elicited during regeneration. Unexpectedly, we found that NMDAr exerted a major effect on regulating ongoing tectal (postsynaptic) activity levels during regeneration. Blocking NMDAr strongly suppressed spontaneous activity during regeneration but had no significant effect in the normal projection. This difference could be attributed to an occlusion effect of strong optic drive in the normal projection, which dominated ongoing tectal activity. During regeneration, this optic drive is largely absent. Optic nerve stimulation further indicated that the NMDAr had little effect on the ability of optic fibers to evoke early postsynaptic impulse activity but was important for late network activity. These results indicate that, during regeneration, the NMDAr may play a critical role in the homeostatic regulation of ongoing activity and network excitability. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Journal of Neuroscience Research 07/2013; · 2.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Glutamate neurotransmission and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) are central to photic signaling to the master circadian pacemaker located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). NMDARs also play important roles in brain development including visual input circuits. The functional NMDAR is comprised of multiple subunits, but each requiring the NR1 subunit for normal activity. The NR1 can be alternatively spliced to produce isoforms that confer different functional properties on the NMDAR. The SCN undergoes extensive developmental changes during postnatal life, including synaptogenesis and acquisition of photic signaling. These changes are especially important in the highly photoperiodic Siberian hamster, in which development of sensitivity to photic cues within the SCN could impact early physiological programming. In this study we examined the expression of NR1 isoforms in the hamster at different developmental ages. Gene expression in the forebrain was quantified by in situ hybridization using oligonucleotide probes specific to alternatively spliced regions of the NR1 heteronuclear mRNA, including examination of anterior hypothalamus, piriform cortex, caudate-putamen, thalamus and hippocampus. Gene expression analysis within the SCN revealed the absence of the N1 cassette, the presence of the C2 cassette alone and the combined absence of C1 and C2 cassettes, indicating that the dominant splice variants are NR1-2a and NR1-4a. Whilst we observe changes at different developmental ages in levels of NR1 isoform probe hybridization in various forebrain structures, we find no significant changes within the SCN. This suggests that a switch in NR1 isoform does not underlie or is not produced by developmental changes within the hamster SCN. Consistency of the NR1 isoforms would ensure that the response of the SCN cells to photic signals remains stable throughout life, an important aspect of the function of the SCN as a responder to environmental changes in quality/quantity of light over the circadian day and annual cycle.PLoS ONE 05/2012; 7(5):e37496. · 3.53 Impact Factor