Author(s): Guilarte TR, McGlothan JL, Guilarte TR, McGlothan JL
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Abstract We have previously shown that exposure to environmentally relevant levels of Pb(2+) during brain development decreases the expression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunit 1 (NR1) and NR2A genes in the hippocampus of young adult rats and was associated with deficits in hippocampal LTP and spatial learning [Neuroscience 99 (2000) 233-242]. In the present study, we demonstrate that the lower levels of NR1 subunit mRNA expressed in the Pb(2+)-exposed hippocampus are principally due to decreased levels of the NR1-4 and NR1-2 splice variants. These changes were present in the absence of changes in GluR1, PSD-95 and alphaCaMKII gene expression. A unique characteristic of these splice variants is that they lack the C1 cassette. Further, these splice variants have been shown to impart the highest cell surface expression, PKC potentiation and calcium kinetics to NMDAR complexes. Our present findings indicate that Pb(2+)-induced changes in NR1 subunit splice variant mRNA expression in the hippocampus may provide a mechanism by which Pb(2+)-exposure can modify NMDAR-mediated calcium signaling and influence the degree of synaptic plasticity.
This article was published in Brain Res Mol Brain Res
and referenced in Journal of Drug Metabolism & Toxicology