Sodium-dependent transport into astrocytes is critical for maintaining the extracellular concentrations of glutamate below toxic levels in the central nervous system. In this study, the expression of the glial glutamate transporters GLT-1 and GLAST was studied in primary cultures derived from cortical tissue. In primary astrocytes, GLAST protein levels were approximately one haft of those observed in cortical tissue, but GLT-1 protein was present at very low levels compared with cortical tissue. Maintenance of these astrocytes in medium supplemented with dibutyryl-cAMP (dbcAMP) caused a dramatic change in cell morphology, increased GLT-1 and GLAST mRNA levels ~5-fold, increased GLAST protein ~2-fold, and increased GLT-1 protein ≤8-20-fold. These increases in protein expression were accompanied by 2-fold increases in the V(max) and K(m) values for Na+- dependent L-[3H]glutamate transport activity. Although GLT-1 is sensitive to inhibition by dihydrokainate in heterologous expression systems, no dihydrokainate sensitivity was observed in astrocyte cultures that expressed GLT-1. Biotinylation with a membrane-impermeant reagent, separation of the biotinylated/cell surface proteins, and subsequent Western blotting demonstrated that both GLT-1 and GLAST were present at the cell surface. Coculturing of astrocytes with neurons also induced expression of GLT-1, which colocalized with the glial specific marker, glial fibrillary acidic protein. Neurons induced a small increase in GLAST protein. Several studies were performed to examine the mechanism by which neurons regulate expression of the glial transporters. Three different protein kinase A (PKA) antagonists did not block the effect of neurons on glial expression of GLT-1 protein, but the addition of dbcAMP to mixed cultures of neurons and astrocytes did not cause GLT-1 protein to increase further. This suggests that neurons do not regulate GLT-1 by activation of PKA but that neurons and dbcAMP regulate GLT- 1 protein through convergent pathways. As was observed with GLT-1, the increases in GLAST protein observed in cocultures were not blocked by PKA antagonists, but unlike GLT-1, the addition of dbcAMP to mixed cultures of neurons and astrocytes caused GLAST protein to increase ~2-fold. Neurons separated from astrocytes with a semipermeable membrane increased GLT-1 protein, indicating that the effect of neurons was mediated by a diffusible molecule. Treatment of cocultures with high concentrations of either N- methyl-D-aspartate or glutamate killed the neurons, caused GLT-1 protein to decrease, and caused GLAST protein to increase. These studies suggest that GLT-1 and GLAST protein are regulated independently in astrocyte cultures and that a diffusible molecule secreted by neurons induces expression of GLT-1 in astrocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine