Ligand-independent activity of the ghrelin receptor modulates AMPA receptor trafficking and supports memory formation

Sci Signal. 2021 Feb 16;14(670):eabb1953. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.abb1953.


The biological signals of hunger, satiety, and memory are interconnected. The role of the hormone ghrelin in regulating feeding and memory makes ghrelin receptors attractive targets for associated disorders. We investigated the effects of the high ligand-independent activity of the ghrelin receptor GHS-R1a on the physiology of excitatory synapses in the hippocampus. Blocking this activity produced a decrease in the synaptic content of AMPA receptors in hippocampal neurons and a reduction in GluA1 phosphorylation at Ser845 Reducing the ligand-independent activity of GHS-R1a increased the surface diffusion of AMPA receptors and impaired AMPA receptor-dependent synaptic delivery induced by chemical long-term potentiation. Accordingly, we found that blocking this GHS-R1a activity impaired spatial and recognition memory in mice. These observations support a role for the ligand-independent activity of GHS-R1a in regulating AMPA receptor trafficking under basal conditions and in the context of synaptic plasticity that underlies learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Memory*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, AMPA* / genetics
  • Receptors, AMPA* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Ghrelin* / genetics
  • Receptors, Ghrelin* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Ghrelin
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Ghrelin