Kainate receptors (KARs) are a family of ionotropic glutamate receptors whose primary function is to help maintain the critical balance between excitatory and inhibitory processes in the central nervous system. Because KARs are primarily serve modulatory roles, rather than underlying integral components of basic excitatory transmission, they may prove more approachable drug targets than AMPA or NMDA receptors. KARs subserve their modulatory role in part by virtue of a remarkably heterogeneous distribution in different neuronal populations. The neuron-specific cellular mechanisms that direct polarized distribution and synaptic (or extrasynaptic) targeting of KARs remain largely unknown. Our long-term objective is to elucidate the molecular processes that control constitutive and regulated KAR localization in neurons. We have discovered that Epb4.1 proteins alter neuronal KAR localization and function through interactions with conserved regions of receptor subunit carboxy-terminal domains. In this project, we will identify the site(s) and subunit specificity of this association, how 4.1 proteins control localization of KARs in neurons, and determine how posttranslational modifications such as palmitoylation and phosphorylation modulate the interaction between 4.1 proteins and KAR subunits. Understanding the molecular and cellular bases for these processes is an important objective, because KARs represent new therapeutic targets for a number of neuropathologies, including chronic pain, anxiety and epilepsy.

Public Health Relevance

Kainate receptors are multifunctional proteins that influence the balance between excitatory and inhibitory systems in the mammalian brain. The cellular mechanisms that control their synthesis and localization in the brain are poorly understood, but these processes are critical for the normal functioning of the receptor proteins. In this grant, we will elucidate the role of a set of intracellular proteins in moving kainate receptors to their site(s) of functional activity in neurons.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synapses, Cytoskeleton and Trafficking Study Section (SYN)
Program Officer
Silberberg, Shai D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Northwestern University at Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Smith, Katharine R; Jones, Kelly A; Kopeikina, Katherine J et al. (2017) Cadherin-10 Maintains Excitatory/Inhibitory Ratio through Interactions with Synaptic Proteins. J Neurosci 37:11127-11139
Xu, Jian; Marshall, John J; Fernandes, Herman B et al. (2017) Complete Disruption of the Kainate Receptor Gene Family Results in Corticostriatal Dysfunction in Mice. Cell Rep 18:1848-1857
Vernon, Claire G; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2017) Neto2 Assembles with Kainate Receptors in DRG Neurons during Development and Modulates Neurite Outgrowth in Adult Sensory Neurons. J Neurosci 37:3352-3363
Griffith, Theanne N; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2015) Identification of critical functional determinants of kainate receptor modulation by auxiliary protein Neto2. J Physiol 593:4815-33
Smith, Katharine R; Kopeikina, Katherine J; Fawcett-Patel, Jessica M et al. (2014) Psychiatric risk factor ANK3/ankyrin-G nanodomains regulate the structure and function of glutamatergic synapses. Neuron 84:399-415
Copits, Bryan A; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2013) Lateral thinking: CaMKII uncouples kainate receptors from mossy fibre synapses. EMBO J 32:487-9
Copits, Bryan A; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2013) Kainate receptor post-translational modifications differentially regulate association with 4.1N to control activity-dependent receptor endocytosis. J Biol Chem 288:8952-65
Srivastava, Deepak P; Copits, Bryan A; Xie, Zhong et al. (2012) Afadin is required for maintenance of dendritic structure and excitatory tone. J Biol Chem 287:35964-74
Copits, Bryan A; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2012) Dancing partners at the synapse: auxiliary subunits that shape kainate receptor function. Nat Rev Neurosci 13:675-86
Contractor, Anis; Mulle, Christophe; Swanson, Geoffrey T (2011) Kainate receptors coming of age: milestones of two decades of research. Trends Neurosci 34:154-63

Showing the most recent 10 out of 13 publications