SNARE-dependent upregulation of potassium chloride co-transporter 2 activity after metabotropic zinc receptor activation in rat cortical neurons in vitro

R. A. Saadi, K. He, K. A. Hartnett, K. Kandler, M. Hershfinkel, E. Aizenman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Scopus citations


    The major outward chloride transporter in neurons is the potassium chloride co-transporter 2 (KCC2), critical for maintaining an inhibitory reversal potential for GABAA receptor channels. In a recent study, we showed that Zn2+ regulates GABAA reversal potentials in the hippocampus by enhancing the activity of KCC2 through an increase in its surface expression. Zn2+ initiates this process by activating the Gq-coupled metabotropic Zn2+ receptor/G protein-linked receptor 39 (mZnR/GPR39). Here, we first demonstrated that mZnR/GPR39 is functional in cortical neurons in culture, and then tested the hypothesis that the increase in KCC2 activity is mediated through a soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE)-dependent process. We established the presence of functional mZnR in rat cultured cortical neurons by loading cells with a Ca2+ indicator and exposing cells to Zn2+, which triggered consistent Ca2+ responses that were blocked by the Gq antagonist YM-254890, but not by the metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonist (RS)-α-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine (MCPG). Importantly, Zn2+ treatment under these conditions did not increase the intracellular concentrations of Zn2+ itself. We then measured KCC2 activity by monitoring both the rate and relative amount of furosemide-sensitive NH4+ influx through the co-transporter using an intracellular pH-sensitive fluorescent indicator. We observed that Zn2+ pretreatment induced a Ca2+-dependent increase in KCC2 activity. The effects of Zn2+ on KCC2 activity were also observed in wild-type mouse cortical neurons in culture, but not in neurons obtained from mZnR/GPR39-/- mice, suggesting that Zn2+ acts through mZnR/GPR39 activation to upregulate KCC2 activity. We next transfected rat cortical neurons with a plasmid encoding botulinum toxin C1 (Botox C1), which cleaves the SNARE proteins syntaxin 1 and synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25). Basal KCC2 activity was similar in both transfected and non-transfected neurons. Non-transfected cells, or cells transfected with marker vector alone, showed a Zn2+-dependent increase in KCC2 activity. In contrast, KCC2 activity in neurons expressing Botox C1 was unchanged by Zn2+. These results suggest that SNARE proteins are necessary for the increased activity of KCC2 after Zn2+ stimulation of mZnR/GPR39.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-46
    Number of pages9
    StatePublished - 17 May 2012


    • Botulinum toxin
    • GPR39
    • KCC2
    • Metabotropic zinc receptor
    • SNARE
    • Zinc

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Neuroscience


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