Normal brain function requires dynamic trafficking of membrane proteins, such as neurotransmitter receptors, for maintaining and altering excitatory synaptic strength. Defects in receptor trafficking could result in a host of pathological outcomes, including destabilization of activity in seizure-prone neural circuits, such as the hippocampus. Upon internalization, AMPA-type glutamate receptors follow ubiquitous vesicle trafficking routes whereby receptors may recycle back to the cell-surface or be targeted to the lysosome for degradation. While it is known that the fate of AMPA receptors may be determined by synaptic activity, little is known about the intracellular signaling cues that determine if receptors will be recycled or degraded. However, a key sorting point is known to exist at the level of the early endosome, where changes in both protein and lipid composition control the identity and dynamics of endocytic trafficking compartments. The specific objective of this proposal is to determine the role of phophatidylinositide (3,5)-bisphosphate (PtdIns(3,5)P2 or PI(3,5)P2) signaling in sorting internalized AMPA receptors and how this sorting may impact synaptic function. PI(3,5)P2 is generated on internal membranes, through phosphorylation of PI3P by phosphoinositide 5-kinase (PIKfyve), and is thought to be critical for the transition from early to late endosomes. My central hypothesis is that PI(3,5)P2 synthesis is a major intracellular signal that determines postendocytic sorting of AMPARs to either recycling endosomes for reinsertion at the cell membrane or to late endosomes/lysosomes for degradation. This hypothesis will be tested in the following two aims: 1) Determine the role of PI(3,5)P2 synthesis in regulating post-endocytic sorting of AMPA receptors;2) Determine if PI(3,5)P2 synthesis contributes to activity-dependent control of synaptic efficacy.
Under Aim 1, changes in AMPA receptor sorting will be assessed via biochemistry and immunofluorescence in cultured neurons from wild-type and mutant mice in which the essential PIKfyve regulator, Vac14-/-, is deleted.
Under Aim 2, changes in postsynaptic strength will be assessed via electrophysiology in combina- tion with cell-specific manipulations of PIKfyve function by RNAi-mediated gene silencing or expression of constitutively active PIKfyve. The experiments outlined in this proposal are expected to reveal novel links between AMPA receptor trafficking and PI(3,5)P2 signaling. By characterizing a unique role for PI(3,5)P2 signaling in regulation of synaptic strength, this project will advance our understanding of intracellular signaling cues that direct intracellular sorting of AMPA receptors, which may yield important insights into the etiology and treatment of epilepsy.

Public Health Relevance

Neurotransmitter receptors are constantly cycling into and out of synapses through a system of endosomal membranes that are highly regulated by signaling molecules, and proper trafficking of these receptors is known to be important for the normal development, maintenance, and plasticity of neural circuits in the brain. Defects in receptor trafficking will likely destabilize activity in neuronal networks, which could contribute to a variety of neurological disorders, including predisposing particularly vulnerable circuits, such as the hippocampus, to epilepsy. This project will test the hypothesis that a specific lipid signaling molecule, PI(3,5)P2, plays a critical role in receptor trafficking and controlling the strength of synapses in neurons of the hippocampus, and may provide important insights into a broad range of human diseases, including epilepsy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F03A-F (20))
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Stewart, Randall R
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
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McCartney, Amber J; Zhang, Yanling; Weisman, Lois S (2014) Phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate: low abundance, high significance. Bioessays 36:52-64
Zhang, Yanling; McCartney, Amber J; Zolov, Sergey N et al. (2012) Modulation of synaptic function by VAC14, a protein that regulates the phosphoinositides PI(3,5)P? and PI(5)P. EMBO J 31:3442-56