Knock-in mice lacking the PDZ-ligand motif of mGluR7a show impaired PKC-dependent autoinhibition of glutamate release, spatial working memory deficits, and increased susceptibility to pentylenetetrazol.
The metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGluR7) is widely expressed throughout the brain and primarily localized at presynaptic active zones, where it is thought to regulate neurotransmitter release. Protein interacting with C kinase 1 (PICK1), a postsynaptic density protein-95/disc-large tumor suppressor protein/zonula occludens-1 (PDZ)-domain protein, binds to the three C-terminal amino acids (-LVI) of the predominant mGluR7 splice variant, mGluR7a, and has been implicated in the synaptic clustering of this receptor. Here, we generated knock-in mice in which the C-terminal LVI coding sequence of exon 10 of the mGluR7 gene was replaced by three alanine codons (-AAA). Immunoprecipitation showed that the PICK1-mGluR7a interaction is disrupted in mGluR7a(AAA/AAA) mice. However, the synaptic localization of mGluR7a was not altered in cultured hippocampal neurons and brain sections prepared from the knock-in animals. In cerebellar granule cell cultures, the group III mGluR agonist l-AP-4 decreased the frequency of spontaneous excitatory currents in neurons derived from wild-type but not mGluR7a(AAA/AAA) mice, consistent with the interaction between mGluR7a and PICK1 being required for protein kinase C-mediated inhibition of glutamate release. At the behavioral level, the mGluR7a(AAA/AAA) mice showed no deficits in motor coordination, pain sensitivity, and anxiety but exhibited significant defects in hippocampus-dependent spatial working memory. In addition, they displayed a high susceptibility to the convulsant drug pentylenetetrazole. Together, these results indicate that PICK1 binding to the C-terminal region of mGluR7a is crucial for agonist-triggered presynaptic signaling in vivo.