Morphine induces AMPA receptor internalization in primary hippocampal neurons via calcineurin-dependent dephosphorylation of GluR1 subunits

Angel Yuet Fong Kam, Dezhi Liao, Horace H. Loh, Ping Yee Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic morphine treatment resulting in the alteration of postsynaptic levels of AMPA receptors, thereby modulating synaptic strength, has been reported. However, the mechanism underlying such drug-induced synaptic modification has not been resolved. By monitoring the GluR1 trafficking in primary hippocampal neurons using the pHluorin-GluR1 imaging and biotinylation studies, we observed that prolonged morphine exposure significantly induced loss of synaptic and extrasynaptic GluR1 by internalization. The morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis was independent of neural network activities or NMDA receptor activities, as neither blocking the sodium channels with tetrodotoxin nor NMDA receptors with DL-APV altered the effects of morphine. Instead, morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis is attributed to a change in the phosphorylation state of the GluR1 at Ser845 as morphine significantly decreased the dephosphorylation of GluR1 at this site. Such changes in Ser845 phosphorylation required morphine-induced activation of calcineurin, based on the observations that a calcineurin inhibitor, FK506, completely abrogated the dephosphorylation, and morphine treatment led to an increase in calcineurin enzymatic activity, even in the presence of DL-APV. Importantly, pretreatment with FK506 and overexpression of the GluR1 mutants, S845D (phospho-mimic) or S845A (phospho-blocking) attenuated the morphine-induced GluR1 endocytosis. Therefore, the calcineurin-mediated GluR1-S845 dephosphorylation is critical for the morphine-induced changes in the postsynaptic AMPA receptor level. Together, these findings reveal a novel molecular mechanism for opioid-induced neuronal adaptation and/or synaptic impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15304-15316
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume30
Issue number45
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 10 2010

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