mGluR5 hypofunction is integral to glutamatergic dysregulation in schizophrenia

Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Apr;25(4):750-760. doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0234-y. Epub 2018 Sep 13.


Multiple lines of evidence point to glutamatergic signaling in the postsynaptic density (PSD) as a pathophysiologic mechanism in schizophrenia. Integral to PSD glutamatergic signaling is reciprocal interplay between GluN and mGluR5 signaling. We examined agonist-induced mGluR5 signaling in the postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) derived from 17 patients and age-matched and sex-matched controls. The patient group showed a striking reduction in mGluR5 signaling, manifested by decreases in Gq/11 coupling and association with PI3K and Homer compared to controls (p < 0.01 for all). This was accompanied by increases in serine and tyrosine phosphorylation of mGluR5, which can decrease mGluR5 activity via desensitization (p < 0.01). In addition, we find altered protein-protein interaction (PPI) of mGluR5 with RGS4, norbin, Preso 1 and tamalin, which can also attenuate mGluR5 activity. We previously reported molecular underpinnings of GluN hypofunction (decreased GluN2 phosphorylation) and here we show those of reduced mGluR5 signaling in schizophrenia. We find that reduced GluN2 phosphorylation can be precipitated by attenuated mGluR5 activity and that increased mGluR5 phosphorylation can result from decreased GluN function, suggesting a reciprocal interplay between the two pathways in schizophrenia. Interestingly, the patient group showed decreased mGluR5-GluN association (p < 0.01), a mechanistic basis for the reciprocal facilitation. In sum, we present the first direct evidence for mGluR5 hypoactivity, propose a reciprocal interplay between GluN and mGluR5 pathways as integral to glutamatergic dysregulation and suggest protein-protein interactions in mGluR5-GluN complexes as potential targets for intervention in schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Post-Synaptic Density / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5 / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
  • GRM5 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate