Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Couples Localised Calcium Influx to Activation of Akt in Central Nerve Terminals

Jessica C. Nicholson-Fish, Michael A. Cousin, Karen J. Smillie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The efficient retrieval of synaptic vesicle membrane and cargo in central nerve terminals is dependent on the efficient recruitment of a series of endocytosis modes by different patterns of neuronal activity. During intense neuronal activity the dominant endocytosis mode is activity-dependent endocytosis (ADBE). Triggering of ADBE is linked to calcineurin-mediated dynamin I dephosphorylation since the same stimulation intensities trigger both. Dynamin I dephosphorylation is maximised by a simultaneous inhibition of its kinase glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) by the protein kinase Akt, however it is unknown how increased neuronal activity is transduced into Akt activation. To address this question we determined how the activity-dependent increases in intracellular free calcium ([Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<inf>i</inf>) control activation of Akt. This was achieved using either trains of high frequency action potentials to evoke localised [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<inf>i</inf> increases at active zones, or a calcium ionophore to raise [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<inf>i</inf> uniformly across the nerve terminal. Through the use of either non-specific calcium channel antagonists or intracellular calcium chelators we found that Akt phosphorylation (and subsequent GSK3 phosphorylation) was dependent on localised [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<inf>i</inf> increases at the active zone. In an attempt to determine mechanism, we antagonised either phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) or calmodulin. Activity-dependent phosphorylation of both Akt and GSK3 was arrested on inhibition of PI3K, but not calmodulin. Thus localised calcium influx in central nerve terminals activates PI3K via an unknown calcium sensor to trigger the activity-dependent phosphorylation of Akt and GSK3.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Akt
  • Calcium
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis
  • GSK3
  • Presynapse
  • Vesicle


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