Lu, B (reprint author), NICHHD, NIH, Sect Neural Dev & Plast, 35 Lincoln Dr, Bethesda, MD 20892 USA,email@example.com
Synaptic actions of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are 'gated' by cyclic AMP (cAMP), but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here we report that cAMP regulates BDNF function in mature hippocampal neurons by modulating the signaling and trafficking of its receptor TrkB. cAMP gated the TrkB tyrosine kinase with three characteristic features: BDNF-induced TrkB phosphorylation was attenuated by inhibitors of cAMP signaling, it was potentiated by cAMP analogs, and activation of the cAMP pathway alone had no effect. In addition, cAMP facilitated trafficking of TrkB to dendritic spines, possibly by promoting its interaction with synaptic scaffolding protein PSD-95. Norepinephrinergic and dopaminergic agonists, which elevate intracellular cAMP concentration, also enhanced TrkB phosphorylation and its translocation to spines. cAMP gated long-term modulation by BDNF of spine density, but not the number of primary dendrites. These results reveal a specific role of cAMP in controlling BDNF actions in the brain, and provide new insights into the molecular mechanism underlying cAMP gating.