Deletion of neuronal GLT-1 in mice reveals its role in synaptic glutamate homeostasis and mitochondrial function

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

The glutamate transporter GLT-1 is highly expressed in astrocytes but also in neurons, primarily in axon terminals. We generated a conditional neuronal GLT-1 knockout using synapsin 1-Cre (synGLT-1 KO) to elucidate the metabolic functions of GLT-1 expressed in neurons, here focusing on the cerebral cortex. Both synaptosomal uptake studies and electron microscopic immunocytochemistry demonstrated knockdown of GLT-1 in the cerebral cortex in the synGLT-1 KO mice. Aspartate content was significantly reduced in cerebral cortical extracts as well as synaptosomes from cerebral cortex of synGLT-1 KO compared to control littermates. 13C-Labelling of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates originating from metabolism of [U-13C]-glutamate was significantly reduced in synGLT-1 KO synaptosomes. The decreased aspartate content was due to diminished entry of glutamate into the TCA cycle. Pyruvate recycling, a pathway necessary for full glutamate oxidation, was also decreased. ATP production was significantly increased, despite unaltered oxygen consumption, in isolated mitochondria from the synGLT-1 KO. Density of mitochondria in axon terminals and peri-synaptic astrocytes were increased in the synGLT-1 KO. Intramitochondrial cristae density of synGLT-1 KO mice was increased suggesting increased mitochondrial efficiency, perhaps in compensation for reduced access to glutamate. SynGLT-1 KO synaptosomes exhibited an elevated oxygen consumption rate when stimulated with veratridine, despite a lower baseline oxygen consumption rate in the presence of glucose. GLT-1 expressed in neurons appears to be required to provide glutamate to synaptic mitochondria and is linked to neuronal energy metabolism and mitochondrial function.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTAll synaptic transmitters need to be cleared from the extracellular space after release, and transporters are used to clear glutamate released from excitatory synapses. GLT-1 is the major glutamate transporter, and most GLT-1 is expressed in astrocytes. Only 5-10% is expressed in neurons, primarily in axon terminals. The function of GLT-1 in axon terminals remains unknown. Here, we used a conditional knockout approach to investigate the significance of the expression of GLT-1 in neurons. We found multiple abnormalities of mitochondrial function suggesting impairment of glutamate utilization by synaptic mitochondria in the neuronal GLT-1 knockout. These data suggest that GLT-1 expressed in axon terminals may be important in maintaining energy metabolism and biosynthetic activities mediated by presynaptic mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number25
Pages (from-to)4847-4863
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 the authors.

ID: 216348069