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Synaptic and extrasynaptic location of the receptor tyrosine kinase met during postnatal development in the mouse neocortex and hippocampus

Authors

  • Kathie L. Eagleson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Cell & Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
    • Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
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  • Teresa A. Milner,

    1. Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
    2. Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York
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  • Zhihui Xie,

    1. Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
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  • Pat Levitt

    1. Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
    2. Department of Cell & Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
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Correspondence to: Kathie Eagleson, PhD, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Keck School of Medicine at USC, 1501 San Pablo St., Rm. 237, Los Angeles, CA 90033. E-mail: keagleso@usc.edu

ABSTRACT

MET, a replicated autism risk gene, encodes a pleiotropic receptor tyrosine kinase implicated in multiple cellular processes during development and following injury. Previous studies suggest that Met modulates excitatory synapse development in the neocortex and hippocampus, although the underlying mechanism is unknown. The peak of Met expression corresponds to the period of process outgrowth and synaptogenesis, with robust expression in hippocampal and neocortical neuropil. Resolving whether neuropil expression represents presynaptic, postsynaptic or glial localization provides insight into potential mechanisms of Met action. The subcellular distribution of Met was characterized using complementary ultrastructural, in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), and biochemical approaches. At postnatal day (P) 7, immunoelectron microscopy revealed near-equivalent proportions of Met-immunoreactive pre- (axons and terminals) and postsynaptic (dendritic shafts and spines) profiles in the stratum radiatum in the hippocampal CA1 region. Staining was typically in elements in which the corresponding pre- or postsynaptic apposition was unlabeled. By P21, Met-immunoreactive presynaptic profiles predominated and ∼20% of Met-expressing profiles were glial. A different distribution of Met-immunoreactive profiles was observed in layer V of somatosensory cortex: Met-labeled spines were rare and a smaller proportion of glial profiles expressed Met. Strikingly, Met-immunoreactive presynaptic profiles predominated over postsynaptic profiles as early as P7. PLA analysis of neurons in vitro and biochemical analysis of tissue subsynaptic fractions confirmed the localization of Met in specific synaptic subcompartments. The study demonstrates that Met is enriched at synapses during development and its activation may modulate synapse formation and stability through both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:3241–3259, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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