Calcium-Activated Calpain Specifically Cleaves Glutamate Receptor IIA But Not IIB at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction

Metwally, E; Zhao, GL; Li, WH; Wang, QF; Zhang, YQ

Zhang, YQ (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, CAS Ctr Excellence Brain Sci & Intelligence Techn, Inst Genet & Dev Biol, State Key Lab Mol & Dev Biol, Beijing 100101, Peoples R China.; Zhang, YQ (reprint author), Univ Chinese Acad Sci, Int Coll, Beijing 10

JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 2019; 39 (15): 2776


Calpains are calcium-dependent, cytosolic proteinases active at neutral pH. They do not degrade but cleave substrates at limited sites. Calpains are implicated in various pathologies, such as ischemia, injuries, muscular dystrophy, and neurodegeneration. Despite so, the physiological function of calpains remains to be clearly defined. Using the neuromuscular junction of Drosophila of both sexes as a model, we performed RNAi screening and uncovered that calpains negatively regulated protein levels of the glutamate receptor GluRIIA but not GluRIIB. We then showed that calpains enrich at the postsynaptic area, and the calcium-dependent activation of calpains induced cleavage of GluRIIA at Q788 of its C terminus. Further genetic and biochemical experiments revealed that different calpains genetically and physically interact to form a protein complex. The protein complex was required for the proteinase activation to downregulate GluRIIA. Our data provide a novel insight into the mechanisms by which different calpains act together as a complex to specifically control GluRIIA levels and consequently synaptic function.

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