Mechanisms underlying developmental changes in the expression of metabotropic glutamate receptors in cultured cerebellar granule cells: Homologous desensitization and interactive effects involving N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors

E. Aronica, P. Dell'Albani, D. F. Condorelli, F. Nicoletti, N. Hack, R. Balázs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Glutamate receptors coupled to polyphosphoinositide (PPI) hydrolysis (metabotropic glutamate receptors, mGluR), are highly efficient during the early stages of postnatal life and are thought to be involved in developmental plasticity. The dramatic decrease with age in mGluR activity suggests the existence of mechanisms that down-regulate this receptor after a certain stage of neuronal maturation. In cultured cerebellar granule neurons grown under conditions that promote the survival and maturation of cells (serum-containing medium with 25 mM K+), enzymatic depletion of extracellular glutamate prevented the age-dependent decrease in mGluR agonist-stimulated PPI hydrolysis that normally occurs after 4 days of maturation in vitro, suggesting that mGluR activity declines as a result of developmental changes affecting homologous desensitization. This was borne out by the observation that glutamate at low concentrations (1-10 μM) readily desensitized mGluR at 7 days but not at 4 days in culture. Furthermore, the critical period during which the high sensitivity to agonist-induced desensitization of mGluR developed coincided with the period when phorbol ester-activated protein kinase C acquired the ability to suppress mGluR activity. The developmental pattern of mGluR agonist-induced PPI hydrolysis was similar in granule cells grown under "trophic" and "nontrophic" conditions (in cultures in 25 mM K+ and in a medium containing "low" K+, in this study, 10 mM, respectively). However, the developmental decline in the response to mGluR stimulation after 4 days in vitro was not prevented in cells grown in 10 mM K+ by the removal of extracellular glutamate; rather, it could be counteracted by treatment with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) (EC50, approximately 4 μM), which blocked the development of mGluR desensitization. The effect was NMDA receptor mediated and required DNA transcription and protein synthesis. However, NMDA exerted a different effect in cells grown in 25 mM K+, inducing a substantial decrease rather than an increase in mGluR activity. The effect of growth conditions was also examined on mGluR mRNA levels, which were not always correlated with mGluR activity. In general, either increases in the medium K+ concentrations or NMDA supplementation of the cultures resulted in a decrease in mGluR mRNA levels. It is noteworthy that NMDA could also restore mGluR activity after the metabotropic response had reached its peak. This implies that NMDA receptor activation may be involved in the increase in mGluR activity in adult life under conditions that elicit plastic changes in the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-989
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Volume44
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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