Calmodulin suppresses synaptotagmin-2 transcription in cortical neurons

Zhiping P. Pang, Wei Xu, Peng Cao, Thomas C. Südhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Calmodulin (CaM) is a ubiquitous Ca2+ sensor protein that plays a pivotal role in regulating innumerable neuronal functions, including synaptic transmission. In cortical neurons, most neurotransmitter release is triggered by Ca2+ binding to synaptotagmin-1; however, a second delayed phase of release, referred to as asynchronous release, is triggered by Ca2+ binding to an unidentified secondary Ca2+ sensor. To test whether CaM could be the enigmatic Ca2+ sensor for asynchronous release, we now use in cultured neurons short hairpin RNAs that suppress expression of ∼70% of all neuronal CaM isoforms. Surprisingly, we found that in synaptotagmin-1 knock-out neurons, the CaM knockdown caused a paradoxical rescue of synchronous release, instead of a block of asynchronous release. Gene and protein expression studies revealed that both in wild-type and in synaptotagmin-1 knock-out neurons, the CaM knockdown altered expression of >200 genes, including that encoding synaptotagmin-2. Synaptotagmin-2 expression was increased several-fold by the CaM knockdown, which accounted for the paradoxical rescue of synchronous release in synaptotagmin-1 knock-out neurons by the CaM knockdown. Interestingly, the CaM knockdown primarily activated genes that are preferentially expressed in caudal brain regions, whereas it repressed genes in rostral brain regions. Consistent with this correlation, quantifications of protein levels in adult mice uncovered an inverse relationship of CaM and synaptotagmin-2 levels in mouse forebrain, brain stem, and spinal cord. Finally, we employed molecular replacement experiments using a knockdown rescue approach to show that Ca2+ binding to the C-lobe but not the N-lobe of CaM is required for suppression of synaptotagmin-2 expression in cortical neurons. Our data describe a previously unknown, Ca2+/CaM-dependent regulatory pathway that controls the expression of synaptic proteins in the rostral-caudal neuraxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33930-33939
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 29 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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