Molecular Neurophysiology



PLoS Biol. 2019 Sep 19;17(9)

TRPC channels regulate Ca2+-signaling and short-term plasticity of fast glutamatergic synapses.

Schwarz Y, Oleinikov K, Schindeldecker B, Wyatt A, Weißgerber P, Flockerzi V, Boehm U, Freichel M, Bruns D.

Transient receptor potential (TRP) proteins form Ca2+-permeable, nonselective cation channels, but their role in neuronal Ca2+ homeostasis is elusive. In the present paper, we show that TRPC channels potently regulate synaptic plasticity by changing the presynaptic Ca2+-homeostasis of hippocampal neurons. Specifically, loss of TRPC1/C4/C5 channels decreases basal-evoked secretion, decreases the pool size of readily releasable vesicles, and accelerates synaptic depression during high-frequency stimulation (HFS). In contrast, primary TRPC5 channel-expressing neurons, identified by a novel TRPC5-τ-green fluorescent protein (τGFP) knockin mouse line, show strong short-term enhancement (STE) of synaptic signaling during HFS, indicating a key role of TRPC5 in short-term plasticity. Lentiviral expression of either TRPC1 or TRPC5 turns classic synaptic depression of wild-type neurons into STE, demonstrating that TRPCs are instrumental in regulating synaptic plasticity. Presynaptic Ca2+ imaging shows that TRPC activity strongly boosts synaptic Ca2+ dynamics, showing that TRPC channels provide an additional presynaptic Ca2+ entry pathway, which efficiently regulates synaptic strength and plasticity.


Elife. 2018 Jul 25;7.

A mechanism for exocytotic arrest by the Complexin C-terminus.


ComplexinII (CpxII) inhibits non-synchronized vesicle fusion, but the underlying mechanisms have remained unclear. Here, we provide evidence that the far C-terminal domain (CTD) of CpxII interferes with SNARE assembly, thereby arresting tonic exocytosis. Acute infusion of a CTD-derived peptide into mouse chromaffin cells enhances synchronous release by diminishing premature vesicle fusion like full-length CpxII, indicating a direct, inhibitory function of the CTD that sets the magnitude of the primed vesicle pool. We describe a high degree of structural similarity between the CpxII CTD and the SNAP25-SN1 domain (C-terminal half) and show that the CTD peptide lowers the rate of SDS-resistant SNARE complex formation in vitro. Moreover, corresponding CpxII:SNAP25 chimeras do restore complexin's function and even 'superclamp' tonic secretion. Collectively, these results support a so far unrecognized clamping mechanism wherein the CpxII C-terminus hinders spontaneous SNARE complex assembly, enabling the build-up of a release-ready pool of vesicles for synchronized Ca2+-triggered exocytosis.


Nat Neurosci. 2017 Sep 25

Astrocytes control synaptic strength by two distinct v-SNARE-dependent release pathways.

Schwarz Y., Zhao N., Kirchhoff F., Bruns D.


Communication between glia cells and neurons is crucial for brain functions, but the molecular mechanisms and functional consequences of gliotransmission remain enigmatic. Here we report that astrocytes express synaptobrevin II and cellubrevin as functionally non-overlapping vesicular SNARE proteins on glutamatergic vesicles and neuropeptide Y-containing large dense-core vesicles, respectively. Using individual null-mutants for Vamp2 (synaptobrevin II) and Vamp3 (cellubrevin), as well as the corresponding compound null-mutant for genes encoding both v-SNARE proteins, we delineate previously unrecognized individual v-SNARE dependencies of astrocytic release processes and their functional impact on neuronal signaling. Specifically, we show that astroglial cellubrevin-dependent neuropeptide Y secretion diminishes synaptic signaling, while synaptobrevin II-dependent glutamate release from astrocytes enhances synaptic signaling. Our experiments thereby uncover the molecular mechanisms of two distinct v-SNARE-dependent astrocytic release pathways that oppositely control synaptic strength at presynaptic sites, elucidating new avenues of communication between astrocytes and neurons.


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