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Specialized astrocytes mediate glutamatergic gliotransmission in the CNS

De Ceglia, R; Ledonne, A; Litvin, DG; Lind, BL; Carriero, G; Latagliata, EC; Bindocci, E; ... Volterra, A; + view all (2023) Specialized astrocytes mediate glutamatergic gliotransmission in the CNS. Nature 10.1038/s41586-023-06502-w. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Multimodal astrocyte–neuron communications govern brain circuitry assembly and function1. For example, through rapid glutamate release, astrocytes can control excitability, plasticity and synchronous activity2,3 of synaptic networks, while also contributing to their dysregulation in neuropsychiatric conditions4–7. For astrocytes to communicate through fast focal glutamate release, they should possess an apparatus for Ca2+-dependent exocytosis similar to neurons8–10. However, the existence of this mechanism has been questioned11–13 owing to inconsistent data14–17 and a lack of direct supporting evidence. Here we revisited the astrocyte glutamate exocytosis hypothesis by considering the emerging molecular heterogeneity of astrocytes18–21 and using molecular, bioinformatic and imaging approaches, together with cell-specific genetic tools that interfere with glutamate exocytosis in vivo. By analysing existing single-cell RNA-sequencing databases and our patch-seq data, we identified nine molecularly distinct clusters of hippocampal astrocytes, among which we found a notable subpopulation that selectively expressed synaptic-like glutamate-release machinery and localized to discrete hippocampal sites. Using GluSnFR-based glutamate imaging22 in situ and in vivo, we identified a corresponding astrocyte subgroup that responds reliably to astrocyte-selective stimulations with subsecond glutamate release events at spatially precise hotspots, which were suppressed by astrocyte-targeted deletion of vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1). Furthermore, deletion of this transporter or its isoform VGLUT2 revealed specific contributions of glutamatergic astrocytes in cortico-hippocampal and nigrostriatal circuits during normal behaviour and pathological processes. By uncovering this atypical subpopulation of specialized astrocytes in the adult brain, we provide insights into the complex roles of astrocytes in central nervous system (CNS) physiology and diseases, and identify a potential therapeutic target.

Type: Article
Title: Specialized astrocytes mediate glutamatergic gliotransmission in the CNS
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06502-w
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06502-w
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Astrocyte, Cellular neuroscience
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10177133
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