AMPA receptor-PDZ interactions in facilitation of spinal sensory synapses

Nat Neurosci. 1999 Nov;2(11):972-7. doi: 10.1038/14771.


Silent synapses form between some primary sensory afferents and dorsal horn neurons in the spinal cord. Molecular mechanisms for activation or conversion of silent synapses to conducting synapses are unknown. Serotonin can trigger activation of silent synapses in dorsal horn neurons by recruiting AMPA receptors. AMPA-receptor subunits GluR2 and GluR3 interact via their cytoplasmic C termini with PDZ-domain-containing proteins such as GRIP (glutamate receptor interacting protein), but the functional significance of these interactions is unclear. Here we demonstrate that protein interactions involving the GluR2/3 C terminus are important for serotonin-induced activation of silent synapses in the spinal cord. Furthermore, PKC is a necessary and sufficient trigger for this activation. These results implicate AMPA receptor-PDZ interactions in mechanisms underlying sensory synaptic potentiation and provide insights into the pathogenesis of chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme Activation
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Serotonin
  • Protein Kinase C