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NMDA receptors are selectively partitioned into complexes and supercomplexes during synapse maturation

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Original languageEnglish
Article number11264
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2016


How neuronal proteomes self-organize is poorly understood because of their inherent molecular and cellular complexity. Here, focusing on mammalian synapses we use blue-native PAGE and 'gene-tagging' of GluN1 to report the first biochemical purification of endogenous NMDA receptors (NMDARs) directly from adult mouse brain. We show that NMDARs partition between two discrete populations of receptor complexes and ∼1.5 MDa supercomplexes. We tested the assembly mechanism with six mouse mutants, which indicates a tripartite requirement of GluN2B, PSD93 and PSD95 gate the incorporation of receptors into ∼1.5 MDa supercomplexes, independent of either canonical PDZ-ligands or GluN2A. Supporting the essential role of GluN2B, quantitative gene-tagging revealed a fourfold molar excess of GluN2B over GluN2A in adult forebrain. NMDAR supercomplexes are assembled late in postnatal development and triggered by synapse maturation involving epigenetic and activity-dependent mechanisms. Finally, screening the quaternary organization of 60 native proteins identified numerous discrete supercomplexes that populate the mammalian synapse.

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