Accardi Mv, Brown PM, Miraucourt LS, Orser BA, Bowie D. (2015) J Neurosci 35(26): 9676-88
Activity-dependent strengthening of central synapses is a key factor driving neuronal circuit behavior in the vertebrate CNS. At fast inhibitory synapses, strengthening is thought to occur by increasing the number of GABAA receptors (GABARs) of the same subunit composition to preexisting synapses. Here, we show that strengthening of mouse cerebellar granule cell GABAergic synapses occurs by a different mechanism. Specifically, we show that the neuropeptide hormone, insulin, strengthens inhibitory synapses by recruiting α6-containing GABARs rather than accumulating more α1-containing receptors that are resident to the synapse. Because α6-receptors are targeted to functionally distinct postsynaptic sites from α1-receptors, we conclude that only a subset of all inhibitory synapses are strengthened. Together with our recent findings on stellate cells, we propose a general mechanism by which mature inhibitory synapses are strengthened. In this scenario, α1-GABARs resident to inhibitory synapses form the hardwiring of neuronal circuits with receptors of a different composition fulfilling a fundamental, but unappreciated, role in synapse strengthening.
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