Neurobeachin, a protein implicated in membrane protein traffic and autism, is required for the formation and functioning of central synapses
2009 (English)In: Journal of Physiology, ISSN 0022-3751, E-ISSN 1469-7793, Vol. 587, no 21, 5095-5106 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The development of neuronal networks in the brain requires the differentiation of functional synapses. Neurobeachin (Nbea) was identified as a putative regulator of membrane protein trafficking associated with tubulovesicular endomembranes and postsynaptic plasma membranes. Nbea is essential for evoked transmission at neuromuscular junctions, but its role in the central nervous system has not been characterized. Here, we have studied central synapses of a newly generated gene-trap knockout (KO) mouse line at embryonic day 18, because null-mutant mice are paralysed and die perinatally. Although the overall brain architecture was normal, we identified major abnormalities of synaptic function in mutant animals. In acute slices from the brainstem, both spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents were clearly reduced and failure rates of evoked inhibitory responses were markedly increased. In addition, the frequency of miniature excitatory and both the frequency and amplitudes of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents were severely diminished in KO mice, indicating a perturbation of both action potential-dependent and -independent transmitter release. Moreover, Nbea appears to be important for the formation and composition of central synapses because the area density of mature asymmetric contacts in the fetal brainstem was reduced to 30% of wild-type levels, and the expression levels of a subset of synaptic marker proteins were smaller than in littermate controls. Our data demonstrate for the first time a function of Nbea at central synapses that may be based on its presumed role in targeting membrane proteins to synaptic contacts, and are consistent with the 'excitatory-inhibitory imbalance' model of autism where Nbea gene rearrangements have been detected in some patients.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 587, no 21, 5095-5106 p.
Medical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-111183DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.178236ISI: 000271416900016PubMedID: 19723784OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-111183DiVA: diva2:279745