The Glutamate Transporter GLT1a Is Expressed in Excitatory Axon Terminals of Mature Hippocampal Neurons

Weizhi Chen, Veeravan Mahadomrongkul, Urs V. Berger, Merav Bassan, Tara DeSilva, Kohichi Tanaka, Nina Irwin, Chiye Aoki, Paul A. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

GLT1 is the major glutamate transporter of the brain and has been thought to be expressed exclusively in astrocytes. Although excitatory axon terminals take up glutamate, the transporter responsible has not been identified. GLT1 is expressed in at least two forms varying in the C termini, GLT1a and GLT1b. GLT1 mRNA has been demonstrated in neurons, without associated protein. Recently, evidence has been presented, using specific C terminus-directed antibodies, that GLT1b protein is expressed in neurons in vivo. These data suggested that the GLT1 mRNA detected in neurons encodes GLT1b and also that GLT1b might be the elusive presynaptic transporter. To test these hypotheses, we used variant-specific probes directed to the 3′-untranslated regions for GLT1a and GLT1b to perform in situ hybridization in the hippocampus. Contrary to expectation, GLT1a mRNA was the more abundant form. To investigate further the expression of GLT1 in neurons in the hippocampus, antibodies raised against the C terminus of GLT1a and against the N terminus of GLT1, found to be specific by testing in GLT1 knock-out mice, were used for light microscopic and EM-ICC. GLT1a protein was detected in neurons, in 14-29% of axons in the hippocampus, depending on the region. Many of the labeled axons formed axo-spinous, asymmetric, and, thus, excitatory synapses. Labeling also occurred in some spines and dendrites. The antibody against the N terminus of GLT1 also produced labeling of neuronal processes. Thus, the originally cloned form of GLT1, GLT1a, is expressed as protein in neurons in the mature hippocampus and may contribute significantly to glutamate uptake into excitatory terminals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1148
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 4 2004

Keywords

  • Alternative splicing
  • Excitotoxicity
  • PDZ domain
  • Synapse
  • Trafficking
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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    Chen, W., Mahadomrongkul, V., Berger, U. V., Bassan, M., DeSilva, T., Tanaka, K., Irwin, N., Aoki, C., & Rosenberg, P. A. (2004). The Glutamate Transporter GLT1a Is Expressed in Excitatory Axon Terminals of Mature Hippocampal Neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 24(5), 1136-1148. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1586-03.2004