Surface trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors: From cultured neurons to intact brain preparations
Neuropharmacology. 2019-05-01; : 107642
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Over the last decade, developments in single molecule imaging have changed our vision of synaptic physiology. By providing high spatio-temporal resolution maps of the molecular actors of neurotransmissions, these techniques have revealed that pre- and post-synaptic proteins are not randomly distributed but precisely
organized at the nanoscale, and that this specific organization is dynamically regulated. At the centre of synaptic transmissions, neurotransmitter receptors have been shown to form nanodomains at synapses and to dynamically move in and out of these confinement areas through lateral diffusion within the membrane
plane on millisecond timescales, thereby directly contributing to the regulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity. Since the vast majority of these discoveries originated from observations made on dissociated neurons lacking several features of brain tissue (e.g. three-dimensional organization, tissue density), they were initially considered with caution. However, the recent implementation of single-particle tracking (SPT) approaches in cultured and acute brain preparations confirmed that early findings on the dynamic properties of receptors at the surface of neurons can be extended to more physiological conditions. Taking example of dopamine D1 and NMDA glutamate receptors we here review our current knowledge of the features of neurotransmitter receptor surface diffusion in intact brain tissue. Through detailed comparison with cultured
neurons, we also discuss how these biophysical properties are influenced by the complexity of the extracellular environment. This article is part of the special issue entitled ‘Mobility and trafficking of neuronal membrane proteins.