Search form

TitleThe Gliotransmitter d-Serine Promotes Synapse Maturation and Axonal Stabilization.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsVan Horn, Marion R., Arielle Strasser, Loïs S. Miraucourt, Loredano Pollegioni, and Edward S. Ruthazer
JournalJ Neurosci
Date Published2017 Jun 28
KeywordsAnimals, Axons, Neurogenesis, Neuroglia, Neurotransmitter Agents, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, Serine, Synapses, Xenopus laevis

The NMDAR is thought to play a key role in the refinement of connectivity in developing neural circuits. Pharmacological blockade or genetic loss-of-function manipulations that prevent NMDAR function during development result in the disorganization of topographic axonal projections. However, because NMDARs contribute to overall glutamatergic neurotransmission, such loss-of-function experiments fail to adequately distinguish between the roles played by NMDARs and neural activity in general. The gliotransmitter d-serine is a coagonist of the NMDAR that is required for NMDAR channel opening, but which cannot mediate neurotransmission on its own. Here we demonstrate that acute administration of d-serine has no immediate effect on glutamate release or AMPA-mediated neurotransmission. We show that endogenous d-serine is normally present below saturating levels in the developing visual system of thetadpole. Using an amperometric enzymatic biosensor, we demonstrate that glutamatergic activation elevates ambient endogenous d-serine levels in the optic tectum. Chronically elevating levels of d-serine promoted synaptic maturation and resulted in the hyperstabilization of developing axon branches in the tadpole visual system. Conversely, treatment with an enzyme that degrades endogenous d-serine resulted in impaired synaptic maturation. Despite the reduction in axon arbor complexity seen in d-serine-treated animals, tectal neuron visual receptive fields were expanded, suggesting a failure to prune divergent retinal inputs. Together, these findings positively implicate NMDAR-mediated neurotransmission in developmental synapse maturation and the stabilization of axonal inputs and reveal a potential role for d-serine as an endogenous modulator of circuit refinement.Activation of NMDARs is critical for the activity-dependent development and maintenance of highly organized topographic maps. d-Serine, a coagonist of the NMDAR, plays a significant role in modulating NMDAR-mediated synaptic transmission and plasticity in many brain areas. However, it remains unknown whether d-serine participates in the establishment of precise neuronal connections during development. Using anmodel, we show that glutamate receptor activation can evoke endogenous d-serine release, which promotes glutamatergic synapse maturation and stabilizes axonal structural and functional inputs. These results reveal a pivotal modulatory role for d-serine in neurodevelopment.

Alternate JournalJ. Neurosci.
PubMed ID28550169