Prostaglandin E₂ regulates AMPA receptor phosphorylation and promotes membrane insertion in preoptic area neurons and glia during sexual differentiation

PLoS One. 2011 Apr 7;6(4):e18500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018500.


Sexual differentiation of the rodent brain is dependent upon the organizing actions of the steroid hormone, estradiol. In the preoptic area, a brain region critical for the expression of adult reproductive behavior, there are twice as many dendritic spine synapses per unit length on newborn male neurons compared to female neurons and this sex difference correlates with the expression of adult male copulatory behavior. The sex difference in the POA is achieved via estradiol's upregulation of the membrane-derived lipid signaling molecule prostaglandin E₂ (PGE₂); PGE₂ is necessary and sufficient to masculinize both dendritic spine density and adult sexual behavior in rats. We have previously shown that PGE₂ activates EP₂ and EP₄ receptors which increases protein kinase A (PKA) activity and that masculinized dendritic spine density and sex behavior are both dependent upon PKA as well as activation of AMPA type glutamate receptors. In the current experiments, we build upon this signaling cascade by determining that PGE₂ induces phosphorylation of the AMPA receptor subunit, GluR1, which leads to increased AMPA receptor insertion at the membrane. Treating female pups on the day of birth with PGE₂ induced the phosphorylation of GluR1 at the PKA-sensitive site within 2 hours of treatment, an effect that was blocked by co-administration of the PKA/AKAP inhibitor, HT31 with PGE₂. Brief treatment of mixed neuronal/glial POA cultures with PGE₂ or the cAMP/PKA stimulator, forskolin, increased membrane associated GluR1 in both neurons and glia. We speculate that PGE₂ induced increases in AMPA receptor associated with the membrane underlies our previously observed increase in dendritic spine density and is a critical component in the masculinization of rodent sex behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dinoprostone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects*
  • Proteins / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Sex Differentiation / drug effects
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics


  • Ht 31 protein, synthetic
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • neurabin
  • Dinoprostone
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1