[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At hippocampal synapses, activation of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) induces long-term depression (LTD), which requires new protein synthesis. However, the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Here we describe the translational program that underlies mGluR-LTD and identify the translation factor eIF2α as its master effector. Genetically reducing eIF2α phosphorylation, or specifically blocking the translation controlled by eIF2α phosphorylation, prevented mGluR-LTD and the internalization of surface AMPA receptors (AMPARs). Conversely, direct phosphorylation of eIF2α, bypassing mGluR activation, triggered a sustained LTD and removal of surface AMPARs. Combining polysome profiling and RNA sequencing, we identified the mRNAs translationally upregulated during mGluR-LTD. Translation of one of these mRNAs, oligophrenin-1, mediates the LTD induced by eIF2α phosphorylation. Mice deficient in phospho-eIF2α-mediated translation are impaired in object-place learning, a behavioral task that induces hippocampal mGluR-LTD in vivo. Our findings identify a new model of mGluR-LTD, which promises to be of value in the treatment of mGluR-LTD-linked cognitive disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Salsolinol, a tetrahydroisoquinoline present in the human and rat brains, is the condensation product of dopamine and acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of ethanol. Previous evidence obtained in vivo links salsolinol with the mesolimbic dopaminergic (DA) system: salsolinol is self-administered into the posterior of the ventral tegmental area (pVTA) of rats; intra-VTA administration of salsolinol induces a strong conditional place preference and increases dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms are unclear. Here we present an overview of some of the recent research on this topic. Electrophysiological studies reveal that DA neurons in the pVTA are a target of salsolinol. In acute brain slices from rats, salsolinol increases the excitability and accelerates the ongoing firing of dopamine neurons in the pVTA. Intriguingly, this action of salsolinol involves multiple pre- and post-synaptic mechanisms, including: (1) depolarizing dopamine neurons; (2) by activating μ opioid receptors on the GABAergic inputs to dopamine neurons - which decreases GABAergic activity - dopamine neurons are disinhibited; and (3) enhancing presynaptic glutamatergic transmission onto dopamine neurons via activation of dopamine type 1 receptors, probably situated on the glutamatergic terminals. These novel mechanisms may contribute to the rewarding/reinforcing properties of salsolinol observed in vivo.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major goal of biomedical research is the identification of molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie memory storage. Here we report a previously unknown signaling pathway that is necessary for the conversion from short- to long-term memory. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2), which contains the regulatory protein Rictor (rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR), was discovered only recently and little is known about its function. We found that conditional deletion of Rictor in the postnatal murine forebrain greatly reduced mTORC2 activity and selectively impaired both long-term memory (LTM) and the late phase of hippocampal long-term potentiation (L-LTP). We also found a comparable impairment of LTM in dTORC2-deficient flies, highlighting the evolutionary conservation of this pathway. Actin polymerization was reduced in the hippocampus of mTORC2-deficient mice and its restoration rescued both L-LTP and LTM. Moreover, a compound that promoted mTORC2 activity converted early LTP into late LTP and enhanced LTM. Thus, mTORC2 could be a therapeutic target for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) was originally identified as a sensor of virus infection, but its function in the brain remains unknown. Here, we report that the lack of PKR enhances learning and memory in several behavioral tasks while increasing network excitability. In addition, loss of PKR increases the late phase of long-lasting synaptic potentiation (L-LTP) in hippocampal slices. These effects are caused by an interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-mediated selective reduction in GABAergic synaptic action. Together, our results reveal that PKR finely tunes the network activity that must be maintained while storing a given episode during learning. Because PKR activity is altered in several neurological disorders, this kinase presents a promising new target for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction. As a first step in this direction, we show that a selective PKR inhibitor replicates the Pkr(-/-) phenotype in WT mice, enhancing long-term memory storage and L-LTP.