Coupling of neuronal nitric oxide synthase to NMDA receptors via postsynaptic density-95 depends on estrogen and contributes to the central control of adult female reproduction.
ABSTRACT Considerable research has been devoted to the understanding of how nitric oxide (NO) influences brain function. Few studies, however, have addressed how its production is physiologically regulated. Here, we report that protein-protein interactions between neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) and glutamate NMDA receptors via the scaffolding protein postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95) in the hypothalamic preoptic region of adult female rats is sensitive to cyclic estrogen fluctuation. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments were used to assess the physical association between nNOS and NMDA receptor NR2B subunit in the preoptic region of the hypothalamus. We found that nNOS strongly interacts with NR2B at the onset of the preovulatory surge at proestrus (when estrogen levels are highest) compared with basal-stage diestrous rats. Consistently, estrogen treatment of gonadectomized female rats also increases nNOS/NR2B complex formation. Moreover, endogenous fluctuations in estrogen levels during the estrous cycle coincide with changes in the physical association of nNOS to PSD-95 and the magnitude of NO release in the preoptic region. Finally, temporary and local in vivo suppression of PSD-95 synthesis by using antisense oligodeoxynucleotides leads to inhibition of nNOS activity in the preoptic region and disrupted estrous cyclicity, a process requiring coordinated activation of neurons containing gonadotropin-releasing hormone (the neuropeptide controlling reproductive function). In conclusion, our findings identify a novel steroid-mediated molecular mechanism that enables the adult mammalian brain to control NO release under physiological conditions.
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ABSTRACT: Synaptic plasticity mechanisms are usually discussed in terms of changes in synaptic strength. The capacity of excitatory synapses to rapidly modify the membrane expression of glutamate receptors in an activity-dependent manner plays a critical role in learning and memory processes by re-distributing activity within neuronal networks. Recent work has however also shown that functional plasticity properties are associated with a rewiring of synaptic connections and a selective stabilization of activated synapses. These structural aspects of plasticity have the potential to continuously modify the organization of synaptic networks and thereby introduce specificity in the wiring diagram of cortical circuits. Recent work has started to unravel some of the molecular mechanisms that underlie these properties of structural plasticity, highlighting an important role of signaling pathways that are also major candidates for contributing to developmental psychiatric disorders. We review here some of these recent advances and discuss the hypothesis that alterations of structural plasticity could represent a common mechanism contributing to the cognitive and functional defects observed in diseases such as intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 01/2014; 8:123. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The transition to puberty and adult fertility both require a minimum level of energy availability. The adipocyte-derived hormone leptin signals the long-term status of peripheral energy stores and serves as a key metabolic messenger to the neuroendocrine reproductive axis. Humans and mice lacking leptin or its receptor fail to complete puberty and are infertile. Restoration of leptin levels in these individuals promotes sexual maturation, which requires the pulsatile, coordinated delivery of gonadotropin-releasing hormone to the pituitary and the resulting surge of luteinizing hormone (LH); however, the neural circuits that control the leptin-mediated induction of the reproductive axis are not fully understood. Here, we found that leptin coordinated fertility by acting on neurons in the preoptic region of the hypothalamus and inducing the synthesis of the freely diffusible volume-based transmitter NO, through the activation of neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) in these neurons. The deletion of the gene encoding nNOS or its pharmacological inhibition in the preoptic region blunted the stimulatory action of exogenous leptin on LH secretion and prevented the restoration of fertility in leptin-deficient female mice by leptin treatment. Together, these data indicate that leptin plays a central role in regulating the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in vivo through the activation of nNOS in neurons of the preoptic region.The Journal of clinical investigation 05/2014; · 15.39 Impact Factor