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Prenatal cocaine exposure causes sustained phosphorylation of the synaptic anchoring protein, glutamate receptor interacting protein (GRIP1/2), preventing synaptic targeting of the GluR2/3-containing alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazolepropionic acid-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs; J. Neurosci. 29: 6308–6319, 2009). Because overexpression of GRIP-associated neuronal rasGEF protein (GRASP-1) specifically reduces the synaptic targeting of AMPARs, we hypothesized that prenatal cocaine exposure enhances GRASP-1 synaptic membrane localization leading to hyper-activation of ras family proteins and heightened actin polymerization. Our results show a markedly increased GRIP1-associated GRASP-1 content with approximately 40% reduction in its rasGEF activity in frontal cortices (FCX) of 21-day-old (P21) prenatal cocaineexposed rats. This cocaine effect is the result of a persistent protein kinase C (PKC)- and downstream Src tyrosine kinasemediated GRIP phosphorylation. The hyperactivated PKC also increased membrane-associated GRASP-1 and activated small G-proteins RhoA, cdc42/Rac1 and Rap1 as well as filamentous actin (F-actin) levels without an effect on the phosphorylation state of actin. Since increased F-actin facilitates protein transport, our results suggest that increased GRASP-1 synaptic localization in prenatal cocaine-exposed brains is an adaptive response to restoring the synaptic expression of AMPA-GluR2/ 3. Our earlier data demonstrated that persistent PKC-mediated GRIP phosphorylation reduces GluR2/3 synaptic targeting in prenatal cocaine-exposed brains, we now show that the increased GRIP-associated GRASP-1 may contribute to the reduction in GluR2/3 synaptic expression and AMPAR signaling defects.


This article originally appeared in PLoS ONE, available at DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0025019

© 2011 Bakshi et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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