Dramatic Increase of the RNA Editing for Glutamate Receptor Subunits During Terminal Differentiation of Clonal Human Neurons


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. K. Nishikura at Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, U.S.A.


Abstract: RNA editing plays an important role in determining physiological characteristics of certain glutamate-gated receptor (GluR) channels such as Ca2+ permeability and desensitization kinetics. In one case, the editing changes a gene-encoded glutamine (Q) to an arginine (R) codon located in the channel-forming domain of the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptor subunit GluR-B and also the kainate receptor subunits GluR5 and GluR6. Another case of RNA editing alters an arginine (R) to a glycine (G) codon at a position termed the “R/G” site of AMPA subunits GluR-B, C, and D. Double-stranded RNA-specific adenosine deaminases (DRADA) have been implicated as agents involved in the editing. By using a human teratocarcinoma cell line, NT2, we investigated the change of the RNA editing of GluR subunits in conjunction with the expression of two DRADA members, DRADA1 and DRADA2 genes, during neuronal differentiation. Whereas Q/R and R/G site RNA editing both become progressively activated in differentiating NT2 cells, the expression of the two DRADA genes can already be detected even in the undifferentiated NT2 cells. Development of the editing machinery appears to require, in addition to DRADA enzymes, a currently unidentified mechanism(s) that may become activated during neuronal differentiation.

Abbreviations used: AMPA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate; DRADA, dsRNA-specific adenosine deaminase; dsRNA, double-stranded RNA; GluR, glutamate receptor; HEK, human embryonic kidney; RA, retinoic acid; RT; reverse transcription; TM, transmembrane domain.