Research ArticleNeuroscience

BDNF increases synaptic NMDA receptor abundance by enhancing the local translation of Pyk2 in cultured hippocampal neurons

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Science Signaling  18 Jun 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 586, eaav3577
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aav3577

An RNA binding protein in synaptic plasticity

Changes in neuronal activity, such as in response to the neurotrophin BDNF, occur partly through changes to the protein composition at the neuronal synapse. Afonso et al. found that the RNA binding protein hnRNP K was critical for the synaptic synthesis of the kinase PYK2 in hippocampal neurons upon BDNF stimulation. This synaptic localization of PYK2, in turn, promoted the formation and synaptic integration of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors, which is important for the synaptic plasticity that underlies learning and memory formation. These findings not only pinpoint a critical kinase in the broader synaptic proteome for this phenomenon but also place an RNA binding protein at the core of its regulation.

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