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Keywords:

  • co-culture;
  • EAAT2;
  • Glial cell;
  • glutamate transporter;
  • rho kinase;
  • TRAK2

Abstract

Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Recent evidence suggests that the predominant astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT-1/ Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2 (EAAT2) is associated with mitochondria. We used primary cultures of mouse astrocytes to assess co-localization of GLT-1 with mitochondria, and tested whether the interaction was dependent on neurons, actin polymerization or the kinesin adaptor, TRAK2. Mouse primary astrocytes were transfected with constructs expressing V5-tagged GLT-1, pDsRed1-Mito with and without dominant negative TRAK2. Astrocytes were visualized using confocal microscopy and co-localization was quantified using Volocity software. Image analysis of confocal z-stacks revealed no co-localization between mitochondria and GLT-1 in pure astrocyte cultures. Co-culture of astrocytes with primary mouse cortical neurons revealed more mitochondria in processes and a positive correlation between mitochondria and GLT-1. This co-localization was not further enhanced after neuronal depolarization induced by 1 h treatment with 15 mM K+. In pure astrocytes, a rho kinase inhibitor, Y27632 caused the distribution of mitochondria to astrocyte processes without enhancing GLT-1/mitochondrial co-localization, however, in co-cultures, Y27632 abolished mitochondrial:GLT-1 co-localization. Disrupting potential mitochondrial: kinesin interactions using dominant negative TRAK2 did not alter GLT-1 distribution or GLT-1: mitochondrial co-localization. We conclude that the association between GLT-1 and mitochondria is modest, is driven by synaptic activity and dependent on polymerized actin filaments.

Mitochondria have limited co-localization with the glutamate transporter GLT-1 in primary astrocytes in culture. Few mitochondria are in the fine processes where GLT-1 is abundant. It is necessary to culture astrocytes with neurones to drive a significant level of co-localization, but co-localization is not further altered by depolarization, manipulating sodium ion gradients or Na/K ATPase activity.