Neuronal D-serine and glycine release via the Asc-1 transporter regulates NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic activity

Dina Rosenberg, Samar Artoul, Adi C. Segal, Goren Kolodney, Inna Radzishevsky, Elena Dikopoltsev, Veronika N. Foltyn, Ran Inoue, Hisashi Mori, Jean Marie Billard, Herman Wolosker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


D-Serine and glycine are coagonists of NMDA receptors (NMDARs), but their relative contributions for several NMDAR-dependent processes are unclear. We now report that the alanine-serine-cysteine transporter-1 (Asc-1) mediates release of both D-serine and glycine from neurons, and, in turn, this modulates NMDAR synaptic activity. Asc-1 antiporter activity is enhanced by D-isoleucine (D-Ile), which releases D-serine and glycine from Asc-1-transfected cells, primary neuronal cultures, and hippocampal slices. D-Ile has no effect on astrocytes, which do not express Asc-1. We show that D-Ile enhances the long-term potentiation (LTP) in rat and mouse hippocampal CA1 by stimulating Asc-1-mediated endogenous D-serine release. D-Ile effects on synaptic plasticity are abolished by enzymatically depleting D-serine or by using serine racemase knock-out (SR-KO) mice, confirming its specificity and supporting the notion that LTP depends mostly on D-serine release. Conversely, our data also disclose a role of glycine in activating synaptic NMDARs. Although acute enzymatic depletion of D-serine also drastically decreases the isolated NMDAR synaptic potentials, these responses are still enhanced by D-Ile. Furthermore, NMDAR synaptic potentials are preserved in SR-KO mice and are also enhanced by D-Ile, indicating that glycine overlaps with D-serine binding at synaptic NMDARs. Altogether, our results disclose a novel role of Asc-1 in regulating NMDAR-dependent synaptic activity by mediating concurrent non-vesicular release of D-serine and glycine. Our data also highlight an important role of neuron-derived D-serine and glycine, indicating that astrocytic D-serine is not solely responsible for activating synaptic NMDARs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3533-3544
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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