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Impairment of TrkB-PSD-95 signaling in Angelman syndrome.

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by severe cognitive impairment and a high rate of autism. AS is caused by disrupted neuronal expression of the maternally inherited Ube3A ubiquitin protein ligase, required for the proteasomal degradation of proteins implicated in synaptic plasticity, such as the activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein (Arc/Arg3.1). Mice deficient in maternal Ube3A express elevated levels of Arc in response to synaptic activity, which coincides with severely impaired long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus and deficits in learning behaviors. In this study, we sought to test whether elevated levels of Arc interfere with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) TrkB receptor signaling, which is known to be essential for both the induction and maintenance of LTP. We report that TrkB signaling in the AS mouse is defective, and show that reduction of Arc expression to control levels rescues the signaling deficits. Moreover, the association of the postsynaptic density protein PSD-95 with TrkB is critical for intact BDNF signaling, and elevated levels of Arc were found to impede PSD-95/TrkB association. In Ube3A deficient mice, the BDNF-induced recruitment of PSD-95, as well as PLCγ and Grb2-associated binder 1 (Gab1) with TrkB receptors was attenuated, resulting in reduced activation of PLCγ-α-calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and PI3K-Akt, but leaving the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) pathway intact. A bridged cyclic peptide (CN2097), shown by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies to uniquely bind the PDZ1 domain of PSD-95 with high affinity, decreased the interaction of Arc with PSD-95 to restore BDNF-induced TrkB/PSD-95 complex formation, signaling, and facilitate the induction of LTP in AS mice. We propose that the failure of TrkB receptor signaling at synapses in AS is directly linked to elevated levels of Arc associated with PSD-95 and PSD-95 PDZ-ligands may represent a promising approach to reverse cognitive dysfunction.

Pubmed ID: 23424281


  • Cao C
  • Rioult-Pedotti MS
  • Migani P
  • Yu CJ
  • Tiwari R
  • Parang K
  • Spaller MR
  • Goebel DJ
  • Marshall J


PLoS biology

Publication Data

February 20, 2013

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NEI NIH HHS, Id: P30EY0468
  • Agency: NINDS NIH HHS, Id: R21 NS061176
  • Agency: NINDS NIH HHS, Id: R21NS061176
  • Agency: Intramural NIH HHS, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Electrophysiology
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Female
  • Guanylate Kinase
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Signal Transduction
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases