In the developing brain, immature synapses contain calcium-permeable AMPA glutamate receptors (AMPARs) that are subsequently replaced with GluA2-containing calcium-impermeable AMPARs as synapses stabilize and mature. Here, we show that this essential switch in AMPARs and neuronal synapse maturation is regulated by astrocytes. Using biochemical fractionation of astrocyte-secreted proteins and mass spectrometry, we identified that astrocyte-secreted chordin-like 1 (Chrdl1) is necessary and sufficient to induce mature GluA2-containing synapses to form. This function of Chrdl1 is independent of its role as an antagonist of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). Chrdl1 expression is restricted to cortical astrocytes in vivo, peaking at the time of the AMPAR switch. Chrdl1 knockout (KO) mice display reduced synaptic GluA2 AMPARs, altered kinetics of synaptic events, and enhanced remodeling in an in vivo plasticity assay. Studies have shown that humans with mutations in Chrdl1 display enhanced learning. Thus astrocytes, via the release of Chrdl1, promote GluA2-dependent synapse maturation and thereby limit synaptic plasticity.
Keywords: AMPAR; GluA2; astrocyte; plasticity; synaptic maturation.
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