Excitatory synaptic transmission is mediated by AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs). In CA1 pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus two types of AMPARs predominate: those that contain subunits GluA1 and GluA2 (GluA1/2), and those that contain GluA2 and GluA3 (GluA2/3). Whereas subunits GluA1 and GluA2 have been extensively studied, the contribution of GluA3 to synapse physiology has remained unclear. Here we show in mice that GluA2/3s are in a low-conductance state under basal conditions, and although present at synapses they contribute little to synaptic currents. When intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) levels rise, GluA2/3 channels shift to a high-conductance state, leading to synaptic potentiation. This cAMP-driven synaptic potentiation requires the activation of both protein kinase A (PKA) and the GTPase Ras, and is induced upon the activation of β-adrenergic receptors. Together, these experiments reveal a novel type of plasticity at CA1 hippocampal synapses that is expressed by the activation of GluA3-containing AMPARs.
Renner, M. C., Albers, E. H., Gutierrez-Castellanos, N., Reinders, N. R., van Huijstee, A. N., Xiong, H., … Kessels, H. W. (2017). Synaptic plasticity through activation of GluA3-containing AMPA-receptors. ELife, 6. https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.25462