Quantitative spatio-temporal characterization of protein interactions in living cells remains a major challenge facing modern biology. We have investigated in living neurons the spatial dependence of the stoichiometry of interactions between two core proteins of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor-associated scaffolding complex, GKAP (also known as DLGAP1) and DLC2 (also known as DYNLL2), using a novel variation of fluorescence fluctuation microscopy called two-photon scanning number and brightness (sN&B). We found that dimerization of DLC2 was required for its interaction with GKAP, which, in turn, potentiated GKAP self-association. In the dendritic shaft, the DLC2-GKAP hetero-oligomeric complexes were composed mainly of two DLC2 and two GKAP monomers, whereas, in spines, the hetero-complexes were much larger, with an average of ∼16 DLC2 and ∼13 GKAP monomers. Disruption of the GKAP-DLC2 interaction strongly destabilized the oligomers, decreasing the spine-preferential localization of GKAP and inhibiting NMDA receptor activity. Hence, DLC2 serves a hub function in the control of glutamatergic transmission by ordering GKAP-containing complexes in dendritic spines. Beyond illuminating the role of DLC2-GKAP interactions in glutamatergic signaling, these data underscore the power of the sN&B approach for quantitative spatio-temporal imaging of other important protein complexes.
Keywords: Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer; Dynein light chain; Guanylate kinase-associated protein; Oligomerization; Scaffold; Scanning number and brightness.
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.