MAPK signaling and a mobile scaffold complex regulate AMPA receptor transport to modulate synaptic strength

Cell Rep. 2022 Mar 29;38(13):110577. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110577.


Synaptic plasticity depends on rapid experience-dependent changes in the number of neurotransmitter receptors. Previously, we demonstrated that motor-mediated transport of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) to and from synapses is a critical determinant of synaptic strength. Here, we describe two convergent signaling pathways that coordinate the loading of synaptic AMPARs onto scaffolds, and scaffolds onto motors, thus providing a mechanism for experience-dependent changes in synaptic strength. We find that an evolutionarily conserved JIP-protein scaffold complex and two classes of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) proteins mediate AMPAR transport by kinesin-1 motors. Genetic analysis combined with in vivo, real-time imaging in Caenorhabditis elegans revealed that CaMKII is required for loading AMPARs onto the scaffold, and MAPK signaling is required for loading the scaffold complex onto motors. Our data support a model where CaMKII signaling and a MAPK-signaling pathway cooperate to facilitate the rapid exchange of AMPARs required for early stages of synaptic plasticity.

Keywords: AMPA receptor; C. elegans; CP: Cell Biology; CP: Neuroscience; CaMKII signaling; MAPK signaling; cargo adaptor; kinesin; scaffold protein; synapse; synaptic plasticity; transport.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases* / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Receptors, AMPA* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases