AMPA receptor/TARP stoichiometry visualized by single-molecule subunit counting.
Members of the transmembrane AMPA receptor-regulatory protein (TARP) family modulate AMPA receptor (AMPA-R) trafficking and function. AMPA-Rs consist of four pore-forming subunits. Previous studies show that TARPs are an integral part of the AMPA-R complex, acting as accessory subunits for mature receptors in vivo. The TARP/AMPA-R stoichiometry was previously measured indirectly and found to be variable and dependent on TARP expression level, with at most four TARPs associated with each AMPA-R complex. Here, we use a single-molecule technique in live cells that selectively images proteins located in the plasma membrane to directly count the number of TARPs associated with each AMPA-R complex. Although individual GFP-tagged TARP subunits are observed as freely diffusing fluorescent spots on the surface of Xenopus laevis oocytes when expressed alone, coexpression with AMPA-R-mCherry immobilizes the stargazin-GFP spots at sites of AMPA-R-mCherry, consistent with complex formation. We determined the number of TARP molecules associated with each AMPA-R by counting bleaching steps for three different TARP family members: γ-2, γ-3, and γ-4. We confirm that the TARP/AMPA-R stoichiometry depends on TARP expression level and discover that the maximum number of TARPs per AMPA-R complex falls into two categories: up to four γ-2 or γ-3 subunits, but rarely above two for γ-4 subunit. This unexpected AMPA-R/TARP stoichiometry difference has important implications for the assembly and function of TARP/AMPA-R complexes.
PubMed ID: 23479622
PMC ID: PMC3612642
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
Grant support: 1P50MH086403 NIMH NIH HHS, 1R01MH091193 NIMH NIH HHS, 2PN2EY018241 NEI NIH HHS , R01NS35549 NINDS NIH HHS , P50 MH086403 NIMH NIH HHS, R01 MH069792 NIMH NIH HHS, R01 MH091193 NIMH NIH HHS
Genes referenced: cacng2