Differential expression of two NMDA receptor interacting proteins, PSD-95 and SynGAP during mouse development


Dr Seth Grant, as above.
E-mail: sg3@sanger.ac.uk


Patterns of neural activity mediated by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are known to play important roles in development of the central nervous system. However, the signalling pathways downstream from NMDA receptors that are critical for normal neuronal development are not yet clearly understood. NMDA receptors interact with various signalling proteins via scaffolding proteins, which are important in adult neuronal and behavioural plasticity. For example, the NR2B subunits of the NMDA receptor interact with postsynaptic density 95 (PSD-95), which in turn binds to synaptic ras GTPase-activating protein (SynGAP). Interestingly, the developmental phenotype of mice carrying null mutations in these genes differ. NR2B and SynGAP homozygote mice die within the first week of birth whereas PSD-95 homozygote mice survive to adulthood. We therefore examined the expression patterns of PSD-95 and SynGAP genes from embryonic stages to adult using lacZ (β-galactosidase) marker gene knock-in mice. Dramatic changes of expression were observed throughout development in brain and other tissues. Although SynGAP binds PSD-95, both genes had distinct, as well as overlapping expression. SynGAP expression peaked at times of synaptogenesis and developmental plasticity in contrast to PSD-95, which was expressed throughout the brain from early embryonic stages. Furthermore, SynGAP showed a more spatially restricted pattern as illustrated by its restriction to forebrain in contrast to PSD-95, which was also found in mid- and hindbrain. These data support the model that synaptic signalling complexes are heterogeneous and individual components show temporal and spatial specificity during development.