The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Pro-brain-derived neurotrophic factor inhibits GABAergic neurotransmission by activating endocytosis and repression of GABAA receptors.

PMID 25274828


GABA is the canonical inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS. This inhibitory action is largely mediated by GABA type A receptors (GABAARs). Among the many factors controlling GABAergic transmission, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) appears to play a major role in regulating synaptic inhibition. Recent findings have demonstrated that BDNF can be released as a precursor (proBDNF). Although the role of mature BDNF on GABAergic synaptogenesis and maintenance has been well studied, an important question still unanswered is whether secreted proBDNF might affect GABAergic neurotransmission. Here, we have used 14 d in vitro primary culture of hippocampal neurons and ex vivo preparations from rats to study the function of proBDNF in regulation of GABAAR trafficking and activity. We demonstrate that proBDNF impairs GABAergic transmission by the activation of two distinct pathways: (1) a RhoA-Rock-PTEN pathway that decreases the phosphorylation levels of GABAAR, thus affecting receptor function and triggering endocytosis and degradation of internalized receptors, and (2) a JAK-STAT-ICER pathway leading to the repression of GABAARs synthesis. These effects lead to the diminution of GABAergic synapses and are correlated with a decrease in GABAergic synaptic currents. These results revealed new functions for proBDNF-p75 neurotrophin receptor signaling pathway in the control of the efficacy of GABAergic synaptic activity by regulating the trafficking and synthesis of GABAARs at inhibitory synapses.