Regulation of AMPA receptor localization in lipid rafts

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Lipid rafts are special microdomains enriched in cholesterol, sphingolipids and certain proteins, and play important roles in a variety of cellular functions including signal transduction and protein trafficking. We report that in cultured cortical and hippocampal neurons the distribution of lipid rafts is development-dependent. Lipid rafts in mature neurons exist on the entire cell-surface and display a high degree of mobility. AMPA receptors co-localize and associate with lipid rafts in the plasma membrane. The association of AMPARs with rafts is under regulation; through the NOS–NO pathway, NMDA receptor activity increases AMPAR localization in rafts. During membrane targeting, AMPARs insert into or at close proximity of the surface raft domains. Perturbation of lipid rafts dramatically suppresses AMPA receptor exocytosis, resulting in significant reduction in AMPAR cell-surface expression.

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