Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB are essential regulators of synaptic function in the adult CNS. A TrkB-mediated effect at excitatory synapses is enhancement of NMDA receptor (NMDA-R)-mediated currents. Recently, opposing effects of TrkB and the pan-neurotrophin receptor p75NTR on long-term synaptic depression and long-term potentiation have been reported in the hippocampus. To further study the regulation of NMDA-Rs by neurotrophin receptors in their native protein environment, we micro-transplanted rat forebrain post-synaptic densities (PSDs) into Xenopus oocytes. One-minute incubations of oocytes with BDNF led to dual effects on NMDA-R currents: either TrkB-dependent potentiation or TrkB-independent inhibition were observed. Pro-nerve growth factor, a ligand for p75 NTR but not for TrkB, produced a reversible, dose-dependent, TrkB-independent and p75NTR-dependent inhibition of NMDA-Rs. Fractionation experiments showed that p75NTR is highly enriched in the PSD protein fraction. Immunoprecipitation and pull-down experiments further revealed that p75NTR is a core component of the PSD, where it interacts with the PDZ3 domain of the scaffolding protein SAP90/PSD-95. Our data provide striking evidence for a rapid inhibitory effect of p75NTR on NMDA-R currents that antagonizes TrkB-mediated NMDA-R potentiation. These opposing mechanisms might be present in a large proportion of forebrain synapses and may contribute importantly to synaptic plasticity.
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
- NMDA receptor
- Post-synaptic density