Trophic factor-induced excitatory synaptogenesis involves postsynaptic modulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 22(2), p.505-14 (2002)
Neurotrophic factors have well established roles in neuronal development, although their precise involvement in synapse formation and plasticity is yet to be fully determined. Using soma-soma synapses between identified Lymnaea neurons, we have shown recently that trophic factors are required for excitatory but not inhibitory synapse formation. However, neither the precise site (presynaptic versus postsynaptic cell) nor the underlying mechanisms have yet been defined. In the present study, synapse formation between the presynaptic cell visceral dorsal 4 (VD4) and its postsynaptic partner right pedal dorsal 1 (RPeD1) was examined to define the cellular mechanisms mediating trophic factor-induced excitatory synaptogenesis in cell culture. When paired in a soma-soma configuration in the presence of defined media (DM, nonproteinacious), mutually inhibitory synapses were appropriately reconstructed between VD4 and RPeD1. However, when cells were paired in the presence of increasing concentrations of Lymnaea brain-conditioned medium (CM), a biphasic synapse (initial excitatory synaptic component followed by inhibition) developed. The CM-induced excitatory synapse formation required trophic factor-mediated activation of receptor tyrosine kinases in the postsynaptic cell, RPeD1, and a concomitant modulation of existing postsynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Specifically, when RPeD1 was isolated in DM, exogenously applied ACh induced a hyperpolarizing response that was sensitive to the AChR antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA). In contrast, a single RPeD1 isolated in CM exhibited a biphasic response to exogenously applied ACh. The initial depolarizing phase of the biphasic response was sensitive to both mecamylamine and hexamethonium chloride, whereas the hyperpolarizing phase was blocked by MLA. In soma-soma-paired neurons, the VD4-induced synaptic responses in RPeD1 were sensitive to the cholinergic antagonists in a concentration range similar to that used to block cholinergic responses in single RPeD1 cells. Therefore, the modulation of postsynaptic nAChRs was sufficient to account for the trophic factor-induced excitatory synaptogenesis. This study thus provides the first direct evidence that trophic factors act postsynaptically to promote excitatory synapse formation.