Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease marked by the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Aβ oligomers cause synaptic dysfunction early in AD by enhancing long-term depression (LTD, a paradigm for forgetfulness) via metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent regulation of striatal enriched tyrosine phosphatase (STEP61). Reelin is a neuromodulator that signals through ApoE receptors to protect the synapse against Aβ toxicity (Durakoglugil et al., 2009) Reelin signaling is impaired by ApoE4, the most important genetic risk factor for AD, and Aβoligomers activate metabotropic glutamate receptors (Renner et al., 2010). We therefore asked whether Reelin might also affect mGluR-LTD. To this end, we induced chemical mGluR-LTD using DHPG (Dihydroxyphenylglycine), a selective mGluR5 agonist. We found that exogenous Reelin reduces the DHPG-induced increase in STEP61, prevents the dephosphorylation of GluA2 and concomitantly blocks mGluR-mediated LTD. By contrast, Reelin deficiency increased expression of Ca2+-permeable GluA2-lacking AMPA receptors along with higher STEP61 levels, resulting in occlusion of DHPG-induced-LTD in hippocampal CA1 neurons. We propose a model in which Reelin modulates local protein synthesis as well as AMPA receptor subunit composition through modulation of mGluR-mediated signaling with implications for memory consolidation or neurodegeneration.
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