Neuronal Activity and Intracellular Calcium Levels Regulate Intracellular Transport of Newly Synthesized AMPAR

Cell Rep. 2018 Jul 24;24(4):1001-1012.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.06.095.


Regulation of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) trafficking is a key modulator of excitatory synaptic transmission; however, intracellular vesicular transport of newly synthesized AMPARs has been little studied due to technical limitations. By combining molecular tools with imaging strategies in cultured rat hippocampal neurons, we found that vesicles containing newly synthesized, GluA1-subunit-containing AMPARs are transported antero- and retrogradely at a mean speed of 1.5 μm.s-1. Synaptic activity and variations in intracellular calcium levels bidirectionally modulate GluA1 transport. Chemical long-term potentiation (cLTP) initially induces a halt in GluA1 transport, followed by a sustained increase, while acute glutamate uncaging on synaptic spines arrests vesicular movements. GluA1 phosphomimetic mutants preferentially travel to the dendritic tip, probably to replenish extrasynaptic pools, distal to the soma. Our findings indicate that AMPAR intracellular transport is highly regulated during synaptic plasticity and likely controls AMPAR numbers at the plasma membrane.

Keywords: GCaMP6f; GluA1-containing AMPARs; calcium; intracellular transport; long-term potentiation; phosphorylation; plasticity; synaptic activity; videomicroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics*
  • Transfection


  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid subtype glutamate receptor, human
  • Calcium