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Title: Modulation of NMDA receptor surface expression by DISC1 and its pathway partners
Author: Crummie, Darragh Kevin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 7710
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2015
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Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is a well supported risk factor for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major recurrent depression. DISC1 is a multifunctional multicompartmentalised scaffold protein with essential roles in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, migration and integration. DISC1 also modulates pathways of vital importance for neuronal signalling and plasticity. One of the major hypotheses for the cause of psychiatric illness is N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction. It was observed that NMDA receptor antagonists can induce symptoms of schizophrenia in unaffected individuals, and exacerbate symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Recent work in our laboratory showed that DISC1 complexes with NMDA receptors within the cell body and at synapse of neurons. Here I studied whether DISC1, or DISC1 missense variants, affect the trafficking of NMDA receptors. This was done by quantifying surface NMDA receptor expression in the presence of DISC1 or variant DISC1. I found that one common variant, 607F, causes a significant reduction in surface expressed NMDA receptors. I went on to show that DISC1 reduces the number of internalised receptors associating with early RAB5-containing endosomes. This indicates that DISC1 may be involved in the trafficking and recycling of NMDA receptors, a process that may be affected by the missense DISC1 variant 607F. Further to this I studied the effects on NMDA receptor trafficking of DISC1 pathway partners Nuclear Distribution Element 1 (NDE1) and Trafficking-protein kinesin binding 1 (TRAK1), both regulators of neuronal intracellular trafficking. Phosphorylation of NDE1 at T131 has been shown to be modulated by DISC1. Using phospho-mimic and phospho-dead NDE1 expression constructs I observed a significant reduction in the surface-expressed NMDA receptors in cells expressing the phospho-mimic form of NDE1. NDE1 may therefore be involved in the trafficking of NMDA receptors, and this role may be modulated by phosphorylation of NDE1. Finally, TRAK1 was shown to associate robustly with the GluN2B subunit, and to decrease the surface expression of NMDA receptors, most likely by sequestering them. The TRAK1-induced GluN2B sequestration may be an artefact, but the association of the trafficking molecule TRAK1 with this subunit may point towards a role in NMDA receptor trafficking. These proteins have been shown to associate with each other and may form a complex in order to traffic NMDA receptors. Disruption of this complex by defective DISC1 expression may affect NMDA receptor trafficking. In the brain this could conceivably contribute to NMDA receptor hypofunction and the development of psychiatric illness.
Supervisor: Millar, Kirsty ; Mackie, Shaun ; Porteous, David Sponsor: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 ; DISC1 ; NMDA receptors