- Original Articles
- Open Access
Immunophilin Regulation of Neurotransmitter Release
© Molecular Medicine 1996
- Published: 1 May 1996
The immunophilins are proteins that mediate actions of immunosuppressant drugs such as FK-506 and cyclosporin A by binding to calcineurin, inhibiting its phosphatase activity, and increasing the phosphorylation level of transcription factors required for interleukin 2 formation. Though concentrations in the brain greatly exceed levels in immune tissues, no function has been previously established for nervous system immunophilins. Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in neurotransmitter release. FK506 appears to inhibit NO production by maintaining NO synthase in a highly phosphorylated and thereby inactivated state. Accordingly, we examined effects of FK506 and cyclosporin A on neurotransmitter release in PC12 cells treated with nerve growth factor (NGF) and in rat brain striatal synaptosomes.
Materials and Methods
We monitored effects of immunophilin ligands on [3H]-neurotransmitter release from PC12 cells differentiated with NGF. Rat brain striatal synaptosomes were loaded with radiolabeled transmitters and treated with FK506 or cyclosporin A prior to initiating neurotransmitter release with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) or potassium depolarization. Striatal synaptosomes were also loaded with 32P-orthophosphate and treated with FK506. 32P-labeled synaptic vesicle proteins were isolated from these synaptosomes in an attempt to relate specific FK506-dependent phosphorylation of vesicle proteins with the effects of FK506 on neurotransmitter release. Identification of proteins targetted by FK506 was made by immunoblot analysis and immunoprecipitation.
Low nanomolar concentrations of the immunosuppressant drugs FK506 and cyclosporin A (CsA) inhibit transmitter release from PC-12 cells and from NMDA-stimulated brain synaptosomes. By contrast, the immunosuppressants augment depolarization-induced transmitter release from synaptosomes. Synapsin I, a synaptic vesicle phosphoprotein, displays enhanced phosphorylation in the presence of FK506.
Inhibition of transmitter release in PC-12 cells and NMDA-treated synaptosomes by immunosuppressants may reflect augmented phosphorylation of NO synthase, reducing its catalytic activity. This fits with the requirement of NO for transmitter release in PC12 cells and NMDA-treated synaptosomes. Stimulation by immunosuppressants of transmitter release in potassium depolarized synaptosomes may result from augmented phosphorylation of synapsin I, whose phosphorylation is known to facilitate transmitter release. Thus, immunophilins may modulate release of numerous neurotransmitters both by influencing NO formation and the phosphorylation state of synaptic vesicle-associated proteins.
The immunophilins cyclophilin and FK506-binding protein (FKBP) mediate the immunosuppressant actions of drugs such as cyclosporin A (CsA) and FK506 (1). The immunophilins occur in substantially higher concentrations in the brain than in the immune tissues and are highly localized in discrete neuronal populations together with the calcium/calmodulin-activated phosphatase, calcineurin (2). Complexes of the immunosuppressants with the immunophilins bind to and inhibit the catalytic activity of calcineurin, thus increasing the phosphorylation of proteins that are calcineurin substrates (2,3). FK506 and CsA potently and selectively block neurotoxicity elicited by stimulation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptors, which have been implicated in neuronal damage associated with strokes and neurodegenerative diseases (4). This neuroprotective action appears related to enhanced phosphorylation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) which inhibits NOS catalytic activity (4), as NOS inhibitors block NMDA neurotoxicity (5).
Despite the high levels of brain immunophilins and their involvement in neurotoxicity, a physiologic role has remained elusive. The link between immunophilins and NOS suggested a possible participation in neurotransmitter release. Nitric oxide (NO) regulates neurotransmitter release, as NOS inhibitors block transmitter release in brain synaptosomes and PC12 cells (6,7). Neurotransmitter release is also regulated by the phosphorylation state of synaptic vesicle proteins like synapsin I, whose enhanced phosphorylation is associated with increased transmitter release (8–10). In the present study, we show that very low concentrations of FK506 and CsA regulate release of several neurotransmitters in PC12 cells and brain synaptosomes, effects which may reflect influences on phosphorylation of NOS and synaptic vesicle proteins. These actions implicate the immunophilins in transmitter release physiology.
[3H]-Neurotransmitter Release Assays
PC12 CELLS. PC12 cells were grown in the presence of 50 ng/ml nerve growth factor (NGF) for 8–10 days, as described previously (7). At 16–18 hr prior to release assay, the cells were placed in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium (DMEM) plus NGF and 20 µM choline chloride at 106 cpm/ml. The cells were then washed three times with oxygenated 37°C neurotransmitter release (NTR) buffer (124 mM NaCl, 5 mM KCl, 1.5 mM NaHPO4, 2 mM MgCl2, 2 mM CaCl2, 6 mM glucose, 25 mM HEPES, pH 7.25) and resuspended in 1 ml NTR buffer. Nitro-L-arginine or FK506 was added for 5 min at 37°C followed by addition of 40 mM KCl to stimulate acetylcholine (ACh) release. After 2 min the release process was stopped by removing the supernatants and centrifuging for 5 min at 12,000 × g. The supernatants were phosphorylated with choline kinase (2 milliunits/ml) to facilitate the separation of [3H]-ACh from [3H]-phosphocholine. As a control for nonspecific release or leakiness of the cells, supernatants from washed cells incorporated with [3H]-choline were removed just prior to addition of KCl. These samples were processed identically as the assay samples. Values obtained from these control cells were then subtracted from the assay samples to determine specific neurotransmitter release. ACh release assays were performed in triplicate or quadruplicate in three separate experiments and data presented are mean values.
[3H]-dopamine release was assayed similarly to [3H]-ACh release, except that 8- to 10-day NGF-treated PC12 cells were treated with [3H]-dopamine 60 min prior to assay. Release of dopamine was stimulated by addition of 40 mM KCl for 2 min at 37°C. Cell supernatants were then centrifuged for 5 min at 12,000 × g, and radioactivity was measured in the supernatants.
RAT BRAIN STRIATAL SYNAPTOSOMES. Striatal synaptosomes were isolated in 0.32 M sucrose after 1,000 × g centrifugation of striatal homogenates prepared with a Teflon homogenizer. The supernatant was diluted 2-fold with NTR buffer and incubated at 37°C for 15 min. Crude synaptosomes were then loaded with [3H]-neurotransmitter at 1 µCi/ml for 30 min at 37°C, washed with NTR buffer and recentrifuged at 1200 × g for 15 min. Synaptosomes were preincubated with FK506 or rapamycin for 5 min at 37°C. After pretreatment, KCl or NaCl was added to 40 mM final concentration to evoke neurotransmitter release or provide a control, respectively. After 2 min of release at 37°C, synaptosomes were centrifuged at 10,000 × g for 5 min, and released [3H]-neurotransmitter was recovered in the supernatant. Nonspecific release of transmitter was estimated from [3H]-transmitter recovered in the supernatant of synaptosomes centrifuged before addition of KCl or NaCl. Assays were performed in triplicate in three separate experiments and mean values are reported.
Phosphorylation of synaptosomal proteins
Synaptosomes isolated from 0.32 M sucrose homogenization were incubated for 90 min with 32P-orthophosphate (0.1 mCi/ml) in phosphorylation buffer (26 mM NaHCO3, 124 mM NaCl, 5 mM KCl, 2 mM CaCl2, 2 mM MgCl2, 10 mM glucose, pH 7.2). The synaptosomes were washed three times in phosphorylation buffer and recovered by centrifugation at 10,000 × g for 15 min. Synaptosomes were then preincubated with 100 nM FK506 or buffer for 5 min at 37°C. After pretreatment, KCl was added to 40 mM to stimulate transmitter release and phosphorylation. After 2 min of phosphorylation, synaptosomes were recovered by centrifugation at 10,000 × g for 5 min. Pellets were resuspended in ice cold H2O + 50 mM NaF and 10 µM sodium pyrophosphate (to prevent dephosphorylation) for 30 min at 4°C, followed by a 10,000 × g centrifugation to remove the lysed synaptosomes. The 10,000 × g supernatant was then centrifuged at 200,000 × g for 2 hr through a 150 mM sucrose cushion to recover 32P-labeled synaptic vesicles. 32P-labeled synaptic vesicle proteins were separated by SDS-Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using the buffers of Laemmli (11), the gels dried down and autoradiograms were prepared.
For immunoblot analysis, proteins from replica SDS-gels were electrophoretically transferred to nitrocellulose and probed with affinity-purified anti-synapsin I Ig (graciously provided by Dr. Pietro DeCamilli, Yale University School of Medicine).
Immunoprecipitation of 32P-synapsin I
Phosphorylated striatal synaptosomes treated with FK506 or buffer containing 0.01% ethanol (the vehicle for FK506) were solubilized by addition of 1% SDS. Affinity-purified antibodies to synapsin I were added to the solubilized proteins for 1 hr at 40°C to precipitate phosphorylated synapsin I. Immune complexes were recovered by incubation with Staphylococcus aureus bearing protein A for 30 min followed by centrifugation.
The inhibition of neurotransmitter release by nitro-L-arginine confirmed our earlier findings indicating that NO regulates neurotransmitter release in PC12 cells and synaptosomes (7). Inhibition of neurotransmitter release is elicited in a stereospecific fashion by isomers of N-methyl arginine and is reversed by L-arginine (7). Potassium depolarization induced release of neurotransmitters in PC12 cells does not appear until 8 days following NGF treatment coincident with the first appearance of NOS immunoreactivity and enzyme activity (7,14,15). FK506 enhances the phosphorylation of NOS which inhibits NOS catalytic activity (16), accounting for the ability of FK506 to block NMDA-neurotoxicity in cortical cultures (4). We suggest that inhibition of neurotransmitter release in PC12 cells by FK506 and CsA similarly derives from enhanced phosphorylation of NOS with inhibition of NO formation.
How might one account for the finding that FK506 fails to inhibit potassium depolarization-evoked release of neurotransmitter from synaptosomes whereas it blocks NMDA-induced release? NOS neurons possess NMDA receptors (17) and normally respond to NMDA with enhanced formation of NO, which would diffuse to adjacent nerve terminals to elicit transmitter release. While NMDA acts only on a subset of the synaptosomal population, potassium depolarization would influence all synaptosomes including those that lack NMDA receptors and NOS, so that any influence of FK506 on NO-regulated neurotransmission would be obscured.
The immunosuppressant drugs FK506 and cyclosporin A potently inhibit the release of neurotransmitters from PC12 cells and NMDA-evoked release from rat brain synaptosomes. In the case of NGF-treated PC12 cells, where release of transmitter is dependent upon NO production, FK506 would inhibit NO production by inactivating NOS and reduce release of ACh and dopamine. The NO-dependent NMDA-stimulated release of glutamate from striatal synaptosomes is likewise blocked by FK506, presumably due to inhibition of NOS catalytic activity. Although the mechanism of the effects of FK506 on the release process in these cells is unknown, our data are consistent with the notion that the targets of FK506 and CsA are drug-immunophilin complexes binding to and inhibiting the protein phosphatase calcineurin.
NO apparently plays an inconsequential role in potassium depolarization-evoked release of neurotransmitters from rat brain synaptosomes. FK506 and CsA potentiate the release of the biogenic amines and amino acid neurotransmitters from rat brain synaptosomes. The FK506-elicited transmitter release is blocked by rapamycin, indicating that FKBP participates in the release process. The calcineurin substrate synapsin I (18), whose phosphorylation is associated with transmitter release, is more highly phosphorylated in response to FK506 treatment, suggesting that phospho-synapsin I mediates FK506 enhancement of synaptosomal transmitter release. Several other unidentified phosphoproteins display elevated 32P incorporation in response to FK506 and may also participate in the FK506 effects.
Blockade of calcineurin may also interfere with vesicle recycling. In response to Ca2+ entry calcineurin dephosphorylates several prominent nerve terminal proteins. Dynamin I, a phosphoprotein with intrinsic guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase activity), is required for endocytosis and is a substrate for calcineurin (19,20). In nerve terminals, calcineurin may serve as a Ca2+-sensitive switch for depolarization-evoked synaptic vesicle recycling (19,20). In this way, calcineurin could reset the nerve terminal for the next round of depolarization-induced neurotransmitter release.
FK506 and CsA enhancement of neurotransmitter may have diverse physiologic consequences. Long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), which participate in learning and information storage, are regulated by calcium-dependent phosphorylation/dephosphorylation (21). Calcineurin has been implicated in the generation of LTD in hippocampal slices, as FK506 inhibits this process (22). Generation of LTD requires activation of postsynaptic NMDA receptors (23), which also increases glutamate release. Thus, inhibition of LTD by FK506 may reflect altered release of neurotransmitters associated with increased phosphorylation of calcineurin substrate phosphoproteins, including NOS.
Transplant patients receiving FK506 or CsA develop a variety of side effects, such as hypertension, which is thought to be due to increased sympathetic tone (24). Enhancement of norepinephrine release by FK506 and CsA could account for increased sympathetic tone and hypertension.
This work was supported by USPHS Grant DA-00266, Research Scientist Award DA-00074 (SHS), and postdoctoral fellowship MH10101 (JPS). TMD was supported by USPHS CIDA NS 04578 and the Beeson Scholar Program in Aging Research. We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Samuel Danishefsky for the gift of FK506, Wyeth-Ayerst for the gift of rapamycin, and Sandoz for cyclosporin A used in these studies. The expert technical assistance of Roxanne Barrow is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Nancy Bruce for preparing the manuscript. Some of the authors own stock in and are entitled to royalties (JPS, TMD, SHS) from Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which is developing technology related to the research described in this paper.
- Schreiber SL. (1992) Immunophilin-sensitive protein phosphatase action in cell signaling pathways. Cell 70: 365–368.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Steiner JP, Dawson TM, Fotuhi M, et al. (1992) High brain densities of the immunophilin FKBP colocalized with calcineurin. Nature 358: 584–587.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Liu J, Farmer Jr JD, Lane WS, Friedman J, Weissman I, Schreiber SL. (1991) Calcineurin is a common target of cyclophilincyclosporin A and FKBP-FK506 complexes. Cell 66: 807–815.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dawson TM, Steiner JP, Dawson VL, Dinerman JL, Uhl GR, Snyder SH. (1993) Immunosuppressant, FK506, enhances phosphorylation of nitric oxide synthase and protects against glutamate neurotoxicity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 90: 9808–9812.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Dawson VL, Dawson TM, London ED, Bredt DS, Snyder SH. (1991) Nitric oxide mediates glutamate neurotoxicity in primary cortical culture. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88: 6368–6371.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Hanbauer I, Wink D, Osawa Y, Edelman GM, Gaily J. (1992) Role of nitric oxide in NMDA-evoked release of [3H]-dopamine from striatal slices. NeuroReport 3: 409–412.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hirsch DB, Steiner JP, Dawson TM, Mammen A, Hayek E, Snyder SH. (1993) Neurotransmitter release regulated by nitric oxide in PC-12 cells and brain synaptosomes. Curr. Biol. 3: 749–754.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Llinas R, McGuinness TL, Leonard CS, Sugimori M, Greengard P. (1985) Intraterminal injection of synapsin I or calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II alters neurotransmitter release at the squid giant synapse. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 82: 3035–3039.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Llinas R, Gruner JA, Sugimori M, McGuinness TL, Greengard P. (1991) Regulation by synapsin I and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II of transmitter release in squid giant synapse. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 436: 257–282.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Nichols RA, Chilcote TJ, Czernik AJ, Greengard P. (1992) Synapsin I regulates glutamate release from rat brain synaptosomes. J. Neurochem. 58: 783–785.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Laemmli UK. (1970) Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of the head of bacteriophage T4. Nature (Lond.) 227: 680–685.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Schreiber SL. (1991) Chemistry and biology of the immunophilins and their immunosuppressive ligands. Science 253: 283–287.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Hultsch T, Albers MW, Schreiber SL, Hohman RJ. (1991) Immunophilin ligands demonstrate common features of signal transduction leading to exocytosis or transcription. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88: 6229–6233.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Sandberg K, Berry CJ, Eugster E, Rogers TB. (1989) A role for cGMP during tetanus toxin blockade of acetylcholine release in the rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cell lines. J. Neurosci. 9: 3946–3954.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Sandberg K, Berry CJ, Rogers TB. (1989) Studies on the intoxication pathway of tetanus toxin in the rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cell line. J. Biol. Chem. 264: 5679–5686.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dinerman J, Steiner JP, Dawson TM, Dawson V, Snyder SH. (1994) Cyclic nucleotide dependent phosphorylation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibits catalytic activity. Neuropharmacology 33: 1245–1251.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Marin P, Lafon-Cazal M, Bockaert J. (1992) A nitric oxide synthase activity selectively stimulated by NMDA receptors depends on protein kinase C activation in mouse striatal neurons. Eur. J. Neurosci. 4: 425–432.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- King MM, Huang CY, Chock BP, et al. (1984) Mammalian brain phosphoproteins as substrates for calcineurin. J. Biol. Chem. 259: 8080–8083.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Nichols RA, Suplick GR, Brown JM. (1994) Calcineurin-mediated protein dephosphorylation in brain nerve terminals regulates the release of glutamate. J. Biol. Chem. 269: 23817–23823.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Liu JP, Sim AT, Robinson PJ. (1994) Calcineurin inhibition of dynamin I GTPase activity coupled to nerve terminal depolarization. Science 265: 970–973.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bliss TVP, Collingridge GL. (1993) A synaptic 333 model of memory: Long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. Nature 361: 31–39.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Mulkey RM, Endo S, Shenolikar S, Malenka RC. (1994) Involvement of a calcineurin/inhibitor-1 phosphatase cascade in hippocampal long-term depression. Nature 369: 486–488.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dudek S, Bear MF. (1992) Homosynaptic long-term depression in area CA 1 of hippocampus and effects of n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor blockade. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 89: 4363–4367View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Lyson T, Ermel LD, Beishaw PJ, Alberg DG, Schreiber SL, Victor RG. (1993) Cyclosporine- and FK506-induced sympathetic activation correlates with calcineurin-mediated inhibition of T-cell signaling. Circ. Res. 73: 596–602.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar