Alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPARs) are the primary mediators for inter-neuronal communication and play a crucial role in higher brain functions including learning and memory. Our previous work demonstrated that AMPARs are subject to ubiquitination by the E3 ligase Nedd4, resulting in EPS15-mediated receptor internalization and Ubiquitin (Ub)-proteasome pathway (UPP)-dependent degradation. Protein ubiquitination is a highly dynamic and reversible process, achieved via the balance between ubiquitination and deubiquitination. However, deubiquitination of mammalian AMPARs and the responsible deubiquitinating enzymes remain elusive. In this study, we identify USP46 as the deubiquitinating enzyme for AMPARs. We find that AMPARs are subject to K63 type ubiquitination, and USP46 is able to deubiquitinate AMPARs in vivo and in vitro. In heterologous cells and neurons, expression of USP46 results in a significant reduction in AMPAR ubiquitination, accompanied by a reduced rate in AMPAR degradation and an increase in surface AMPAR accumulation. By contrast, knockdown of USP46 by RNAi leads to elevated AMPAR ubiquitination and a reduction in surface AMPARs at synapses in neurons. Consistently, miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents recordings show reduced synaptic strength in neurons expressing USP46-selective RNAi. These results demonstrate USP46-mediated regulation of AMPAR ubiquitination and turnover, which may play an important role in synaptic plasticity and brain function. Protein ubiquitination is a highly dynamic and reversible process, achieved via the balance between ubiquitination and deubiquitination. The glutamatergic AMPARs, which mediate most of the excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain, are known to be subjected to Nedd4-mediated ubiquitination; however, the deubiquitination process and the responsible deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) for mammalian AMPARs remain elusive. We find that AMPARs are subject to K63-type ubiquitination, and identify USP46 as the DUB for AMPARs. USP46 deubiquitinates AMPARs in vitro and in vivo. Up- or down-regulation of USP46 leads to changes in AMPAR ubiquitination, surface expression, and trafficking, as well as the strength of synaptic transmission. USP46-mediated regulation of AMPAR ubiquitination and turnover may play an important role in synaptic plasticity and brain function.
Keywords: AMPA receptor; USP46; deubiquitination; receptor internalization; trafficking; ubiquitination.
© 2015 International Society for Neurochemistry.