Differential reelin-induced enhancement of NMDA and AMPA receptor activity in the adult hippocampus

Shenfeng Qiu, Lisa F. Zhao, Kimberly M. Korwek, Edwin J. Weeber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


The developmental lamination of the hippocampus and other cortical structures requires a signaling cascade initiated by reelin and its receptors, apoER2 (apolipoprotein E receptor 2) and VLDLR (very-low-density lipoprotein receptor). However, the functional significance of continued reelin expression in the postnatal brain remains poorly understood. Here, we show that reelin application to adult mice hippocampal slices leads to enhanced glutamatergic transmission mediated by NMDA receptors (NMDARs) and AMPA receptors (AMPARs) through distinct mechanisms. Application of recombinant reelin enhanced NMDAR-mediated currents through postsynaptic mechanisms, as revealed by the variance-mean analysis of synaptic NMDAR currents, assessment of spontaneous miniature events, and the levels of NMDAR subunits at synaptic surface. In comparison, nonstationary fluctuation analysis of miniature AMPAR currents and quantification of synaptic surface proteins revealed that reelin-induced enhancement of AMPAR responses was mediated by increased AMPAR numbers. Reelin enhancement of synaptic NMDAR currents was abolished when receptor-associated protein (RAP) or the Src inhibitor 4-amino-5-(4-methylphenyl)-7-(t-butyl) pyrazolo[3,4-d]-pyrimidine (PP1) was bath applied and was abrogated by including PP1 in the recording electrodes. In comparison, including RAP or an inactive PP1 analog PP3 in the recording electrode was without effect. Interestingly, the increased AMPAR response after reelin application was not blocked by PP1 but was blocked by the phosphoinositide-3′ kinase (PI3K) inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 [2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-1(4H)-benzopyran-4-one hydrochloride]. Furthermore, reelin-induced, PI3K-dependent AMPAR surface insertion was also observed in cultured hippocampal neurons. Together, these results reveal a differential functional coupling of reelin signaling with NMDAR and AMPAR function and define a novel mechanism for controlling synaptic strength and plasticity in the adult hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12943-12955
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 13 2006


  • Apolipoprotein receptors
  • Long-term potentiation
  • Phosphoinositide-3 kinase
  • Receptor trafficking
  • Src tyrosine kinase
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential reelin-induced enhancement of NMDA and AMPA receptor activity in the adult hippocampus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this