Regulation of AMPA receptor subunit GluA1 surface expression by PAK3 phosphorylation

Natasha Hussain, Gareth M. Thomas, Junjie Luo, Richard L. Huganir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


AMPA receptors (AMPARs) are the major excitatory receptors of the brain and are fundamental to synaptic plasticity, memory, and cognition. Dynamic recycling of AMPARs in neurons is regulated through several types of posttranslational modification, including phosphorylation. Here, we identify a previously unidentified signal transduction cascade that modulates phosphorylation of serine residue 863 (S863) in the GluA1 AMPAR subunit and controls surface trafficking of GluA1 in neurons. Activation of the EphR-Ephrin signal transduction pathway enhances S863 phosphorylation. Further, EphB2 can interact with Zizimin1, a guanine-nucleotide exchange factor that activates Cdc42 and stimulates S863 phosphorylation in neurons. Among the numerous targets downstream of Cdc42, we determined that the p21-activated kinase-3 (PAK3) phosphorylates S863 in vitro. Moreover, specific loss of PAK3 expression and pharmacological inhibition of PAK both disrupt activity-dependent phosphorylation of S863 in cortical neurons. EphB2, Cdc42, and PAKs are broadly capable of controlling dendritic spine formation and synaptic plasticity and are implicated in multiple cognitive disorders. Collectively, these data delineate a novel signal cascade regulating AMPAR trafficking that may contribute to the molecular mechanisms that govern learning and cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E5883-E5890
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 27 2015


  • AMPA
  • EphR
  • PSD
  • Synaptic
  • Zizimin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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