Activation of protein kinase C enhances NMDA-induced currents in primary cultured cerebellar granule cells: Effect of temperature and NMDA NR2 subunit composition

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of protein kinase C (PKC) activation by 100 nM phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) on N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function with the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Receptors expressed in primary cultured cerebellar granule cells at days in vitro that result in different NMDA NR2A and NR2B subunit composition were assessed. The effect of temperature during PMA exposure on NMDA-induced current amplitudes as well as PMA-induced translocation of PKC isoform-specific immunoreactivity was also assessed. We observed that PMA augmented NMDA-induced peak current amplitude regardless of NR2 subunit composition and augmentation of NMDA-induced steady-state current amplitudes was only observed in 13 and older days in vitro cerebellar granule cells. PMA treatment did not affect the desensitized state (steady-state to peak current ratios) of the receptor. Augmentation of NMDA-induced current amplitude was seen by 12.5 min PMA exposure, a time that corresponded with translocation of all PMA-sensitive PKC isoform immunoreactivity. PMA exposure at 37 °C resulted in a significant enhancement of NMDA-induced current amplitude compared to augmentation of receptor function following a PMA exposure at 23 °C. Translocation of PKC immunoreactivity was also greatly attenuated at 23 °C compared to treatment at 37 °C. While our data support previous observations that activation of PKC by PMA enhances NMDA receptor function, this augmentation does not appear to be dependent upon NR2 subunit composition. Furthermore our data emphasize the importance of conducting experiments at physiological temperatures when assessing PKC effects on native NMDA receptors.

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