It is well established that long-term potentiation (LTP), a paradigm for learning and memory, results in a stable enlargement of potentiated spines associated with recruitment of additional GluA1-containing AMPA receptors (AMPARs). Although regulation of the actin cytoskeleton is involved, the detailed signaling mechanisms responsible for this spine expansion are unclear. Here, we used cultured mature hippocampal neurons stimulated with a glycine-induced, synapse-specific form of chemical LTP (GI-LTP). We report that the stable structural plasticity (i.e., spine head enlargement and spine length shortening) that accompanies GI-LTP was blocked by inhibitors of NMDA receptors (NMDARs; APV) or CaM-kinase kinase (STO-609), the upstream activator of CaM-kinase I (CaMKI), as well as by transfection with dominant-negative (dn) CaMKI but not dnCaMKIV. Recruitment of GluA1 to the spine surface occurred after GI-LTP and was mimicked by transfection with constitutively active CaMKI. Spine enlargement induced by transfection of GluA1 was associated with synaptic recruitment of Ca2+-permeable AMPARs (CP-AMPARs) as assessed by an increase in the rectification index of miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) and their sensitivity to IEM-1460, a selective antagonist of CP-AMPARs. Furthermore, the increase in spine size and mEPSC amplitude resulting from GI-LTP itself was blocked by IEM-1460, demonstrating involvement of CP-AMPARs. Downstream signaling effectors of CP-AMPARs, identified by suppression of their activation by IEM-1460, included the Rac/PAK/LIM-kinase pathway that regulates spine actin dynamics. Together, our results suggest that synaptic recruitment of CP-AMPARs via CaMKI may provide a mechanistic link between NMDAR activation in LTP and regulation of a signaling pathway that drives spine enlargement via actin polymerization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas