• Glutamate transporter;
  • GLT1;
  • GLAST;
  • Neuron;
  • Astrocyte;
  • Gene expression


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract

Abstract: The glutamate transporters in the plasma membranes of neural cells secure termination of the glutamatergic synaptic transmission and keep the glutamate levels below toxic concentrations. Astrocytes express two types of glutamate transporters, GLAST (EAAT1) and GLT1 (EAAT2). GLT1 predominates quantitatively and is responsible for most of the glutamate uptake activity in the juvenile and adult brain. However, GLT1 is severely down-regulated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Furthermore, selective loss of this transporter occurs in cultured astroglia. Expression of GLAST, but not of GLT1, seems to be regulated via the glutamate receptor signalling. The present study was undertaken to examine whether neuronal factors, other than glutamate, influence the expression of astroglial glutamate transporters. The expression of GLT1 and GLAST was examined in primary cultures of cerebellar granule neurons, cortical neurons, and astrocytes under different experimental conditions, including those that mimic neuron-astrocyte interactions. Pure astroglial cultures expressed only GLAST, whereas astrocytes grown in the presence of neurons expressed both GLAST (at increased levels) and GLT1. The induction of GLT1 protein and its mRNA was reproduced in pure cortical astroglial cultures supplemented with conditioned media from cortical neuronal cultures or from mixed neuron-glia cultures. This treatment did not change the levels of GLAST. These results suggest that soluble neuronal factors differentially regulate the expression of GLT1 and GLAST in cultured astroglia. Further elucidation of the molecular nature of the secreted neuronal factors and corresponding signalling pathways regulating the expression of the astroglial glutamate transporters in vitro may reveal mechanisms important for the understanding and treatment of neurological diseases.

Abbreviations used: DIV, days in vitro; EAAC, excitatory amino acid carrier; EAAT, excitatory amino acid transporter; GLAST, glutamate/aspartate transporter; GLT1, glutamate transporter 1.