The process by which future behavioral responses are shaped by past experiences is one of the central questions in neuroscience. To gain insight into this process at the molecular and cellular levels, we have applied zebrafish larvae to explore behavioral desensitization to sound. A sudden loud noise often evokes a defensive response known as the acoustic startle response (ASR), which is triggered by firing Mauthner cells in teleosts and amphibians. The probability of evoking ASR by suprathreshold sound is reduced after exposure to repetitive auditory stimuli insufficient in amplitude to evoke the ASR (subthreshold). Although it has been suggested that the potentiation of inhibitory glycinergic inputs into Mauthner cell is involved in this desensitization of the ASR, the molecular basis for the potentiation of glycinergic transmission has been unclear. Through the in vivo monitoring of fluorescently-tagged glycine receptors (GlyRs), we here showed that behavioral desensitization to sound in zebrafish is governed by GlyR clustering in Mauthner cells. We further revealed that CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation of the scaffolding protein gephyrin at serine 325 promoted the synaptic accumulation of GlyR on Mauthner neurons through the enhancement of the gephyrin-GlyR binding, which was indispensable for and could induce desensitization of the ASR. Our study demonstrates an essential molecular and cellular basis of sound-induced receptor dynamics and thus of behavioral desensitization to sound.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Behavioral desensitization in the acoustic startle response of fish is known to involve the potentiation of inhibitory glycinergic input to the Mauthner cell, which is a command neuron for the acoustic startle response. However, the molecular and cellular basis for this potentiation has been unknown. Here we show that an increase in glycine receptor (GlyR) clustering at synaptic sites on zebrafish Mauthner cells is indispensable for and could induce desensitization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CaMKII-mediated phosphorylation of the scaffolding protein gephyrin promotes GlyR clustering by increasing the binding between the β-loop of GlyRs and gephyrin. Thus, the phosphorylation of gephyrin is a key event which accounts for the potentiation of inhibitory glycinergic inputs observed during sound-evoked behavioral desensitization.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience|
|Publication status||Published - 06-11-2019|
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