Inhibitory synapses are established during development but continue to be generated and modulated in strength in the mature nervous system. In the spinal cord and brainstem, presynaptically released inhibitory neurotransmitter dominantly switches from GABA to glycine during normal development in vivo. While presynaptic mechanisms of the shift of inhibitory neurotransmission are well investigated, the contribution of postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptors to this shift is not fully elucidated. Synaptic clustering of glycine receptors (GlyRs) is regulated by activation-dependent depolarization in early development. However, GlyR activation induces hyperpolarization after the first postnatal week, and little is known whether and how presynaptically released glycine regulates postsynaptic receptors in a depolarization-independent manner in mature developmental stage. Here we developed spinal cord neuronal culture of rodents using chronic strychnine application to investigate whether initial activation of GlyRs in mature stage could change postsynaptic localization of GlyRs. Immunocytochemical analyses demonstrate that chronic blockade of GlyR activation until mature developmental stage resulted in smaller clusters of postsynaptic GlyRs that could be enlarged upon receptor activation for 1 h in the mature stage. Furthermore, live cell-imaging techniques show that GlyR activation decreases its lateral diffusion at synapses, and this phenomenon is dependent on PKC, but neither Ca2+ nor CaMKII activity. These results suggest that the GlyR activation can regulate receptor diffusion and cluster size at inhibitory synapses in mature stage, providing not only new insights into the postsynaptic mechanism of shifting inhibitory neurotransmission but also the inhibitory synaptic plasticity in mature nervous system.
Nakahata, Y., Eto, K., Murakoshi, H., Watanabe, M., Kuriu, T., Hirata, H., … Nabekura, J. (2017). Activation-dependent rapid postsynaptic clustering of glycine receptors in mature spinal cord neurons. ENeuro, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0194-16.2017