Postsynaptic density 95 (PSD-95) is a major synaptic scaffolding protein that plays a key role in bidirectional synaptic plasticity, which is a process important for learning and memory. It is known that PSD-95 shows increased dynamics upon induction of plasticity. However, the underlying structural and functional changes in PSD-95 that mediate its role in plasticity remain unclear. Here we show that phosphorylation of PSD-95 at Ser-561 in its guanylate kinase (GK) domain, which is mediated by the partitioning-defective 1 (Par1) kinases, regulates a conformational switch and is important for bidirectional plasticity. Using a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensor, we show that a phosphomimetic mutation of Ser-561 promotes an intramolecular interaction between GK and the nearby Src homology 3 (SH3) domain, leading to a closed conformation, whereas a non-phosphorylatable S561A mutation or inhibition of Par1 kinase activity decreases SH3-GK interaction, causing PSD-95 to adopt an open conformation. In addition, S561A mutation facilitates the interaction between PSD-95 and its binding partners. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching imaging reveals that the S561A mutant shows increased stability, whereas the phosphomimetic S561D mutation increases PSD-95 dynamics at the synapse. Moreover, molecular replacement of endogenous PSD-95 with the S561A mutant blocks dendritic spine structural plasticity during chemical long-term potentiation and long-term depression. Endogenous Ser-561 phosphorylation is induced by synaptic NMDA receptor activation, and the SH3-GK domains exhibit a Ser-561 phosphorylation-dependent switch to a closed conformation during synaptic plasticity. Our results provide novel mechanistic insight into the regulation of PSD-95 in dendritic spine structural plasticity through phosphorylation-mediated regulation of protein dynamics and conformation.
Keywords: PSD-95; conformational change; dendritic spine; fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET); phosphorylation; synaptic plasticity.
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.