Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS

CREB decreases astrocytic excitability by modifying subcellular calcium fluxes via the sigma-1 receptor.

PMID 27761593


Astrocytic excitability relies on cytosolic calcium increases as a key mechanism, whereby astrocytes contribute to synaptic transmission and hence learning and memory. While it is a cornerstone of neurosciences that experiences are remembered, because transmitters activate gene expression in neurons, long-term adaptive astrocyte plasticity has not been described. Here, we investigated whether the transcription factor CREB mediates adaptive plasticity-like phenomena in astrocytes. We found that activation of CREB-dependent transcription reduced the calcium responses induced by ATP, noradrenaline, or endothelin-1. As to the mechanism, expression of VP16-CREB, a constitutively active CREB mutant, had no effect on basal cytosolic calcium levels, extracellular calcium entry, or calcium mobilization from lysosomal-related acidic stores. Rather, VP16-CREB upregulated sigma-1 receptor expression thereby increasing the release of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum and its uptake by mitochondria. Sigma-1 receptor was also upregulated in vivo upon VP16-CREB expression in astrocytes. We conclude that CREB decreases astrocyte responsiveness by increasing calcium signalling at the endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria interface, which might be an astrocyte-based form of long-term depression.