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Long-Term Depression Is Independent of GluN2 Subunit Composition


NMDA receptors (NMDARs) mediate both long-term potentiation and long-term depression (LTD) and understanding how a single receptor can initiate both phenomena remains a major question in neuroscience. A prominent hypothesis implicates the NMDAR subunit composition, specifically GluN2A and GluN2B, in dictating the rules of synaptic plasticity. However, studies testing this hypothesis have yielded inconsistent and often contradictory results, especially for LTD. These inconsistent results may be due to challenges in the interpretation of subunit-selective pharmacology and in dissecting out the contributions of differential channel properties versus the interacting proteins unique to GluN2A or GluN2B. In this study, we address the pharmacological and biochemical challenges by using a single-neuron genetic approach to delete NMDAR subunits in conditional knock-out mice. In addition, the recently discovered non-ionotropic nature of NMDAR-dependent LTD allowed the rigorous assessment of unique subunit contributions to NMDAR-dependent LTD while eliminating the variable of differential charge transfer. Here we find that neither the GluN2A nor the GluN2B subunit is strictly necessary for either non-ionotropic or ionotropic LTD.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT NMDA receptors are key regulators of bidirectional synaptic plasticity. Understanding the mechanisms regulating bidirectional plasticity will guide development of therapeutic strategies to treat the dysfunctional synaptic plasticity in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders. Because of the unique properties of the NMDA receptor GluN2 subunits, they have been postulated to differentially affect synaptic plasticity. However, there has been significant controversy regarding the roles of the GluN2 subunits in synaptic long term depression (LTD). Using single-neuron knock-out of the GluN2 subunits, we show that LTD requires neither GluN2A nor GluN2B.

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