The ability of neurons and circuits to maintain their excitability and activity levels within the appropriate dynamic range by homeostatic mechanisms is fundamental for brain function. Neuronal hyperactivity, for instance, could cause seizures. One such homeostatic process is synaptic scaling, also known as synaptic homeostasis. It involves a negative feedback process by which neurons adjust (scale) their postsynaptic strength over their whole synapse population to compensate for increased or decreased overall input thereby preventing neuronal hyper- or hypoactivity that could otherwise result in neuronal network dysfunction. While synaptic scaling is well-established and critical, our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms is still in its infancy. Homeostatic adaptation of synaptic strength is achieved through upregulation (upscaling) or downregulation (downscaling) of the functional availability of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) at postsynaptic sites. Understanding how synaptic AMPARs are modulated in response to alterations in overall neuronal activity is essential to gain valuable insights into how neuronal networks adapt to changes in their environment, as well as the genesis of an array of neurological disorders. Here we discuss the key molecular mechanisms that have been implicated in tuning the synaptic abundance of postsynaptic AMPARs in order to maintain synaptic homeostasis.
- Glutamate receptors
- Homeostatic plasticity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)