Synaptic zinc inhibition of NMDA receptors depends on the association of GluN2A with the zinc transporter ZnT1

Rebecca F. Kral, Aubin Moutal, Matthew B. Phillip, Hila Asraf, Jon W. Johnso, Rajesh Khanna, Michal Hershfinkel, Elias Aizenman, Thanos Tzounopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The NMDA receptor (NMDAR) is inhibited by synaptically released zinc. This inhibition is thought to be the result of zinc diffusion across the synaptic cleft and subsequent binding to the extracellular domain of the NMDAR. However, this model fails to incorporate the observed association of the highly zinc-sensitive NMDAR subunit GluN2A with the postsynaptic zinc transporter ZnT1, which moves intracellular zinc to the extracellular space. Here, we report that disruption of ZnT1-GluN2A association by a cell-permeant peptide strongly reduced NMDAR inhibition by synaptic zinc in mouse dorsal cochlear nucleus synapses. Moreover, synaptic zinc inhibition of NMDARs required postsynaptic intracellular zinc, suggesting that cytoplasmic zinc is transported by ZnT1 to the extracellular space in close proximity to the NMDAR. These results challenge a decades-old dogma on how zinc inhibits synaptic NMDARs and demonstrate that presynaptic release and a postsynaptic transporter organize zinc into distinct microdomains to modulate NMDAR neurotransmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabb1515
JournalScience Advances
Volume6
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Kral, R. F., Moutal, A., Phillip, M. B., Asraf, H., Johnso, J. W., Khanna, R., Hershfinkel, M., Aizenman, E., & Tzounopoulos, T. (2020). Synaptic zinc inhibition of NMDA receptors depends on the association of GluN2A with the zinc transporter ZnT1. Science Advances, 6(27), [eabb1515]. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abb1515