The N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor coagonist D-serine is important in a number of different processes in the central nervous system, ranging from synaptic plasticity to disease states, including schizophrenia. In the retina, light-evoked responses of retinal ganglion cells are shaped in part by NMDA receptors which require a coagonist for activation. There is debate over whether glycine or D-serine is the endogenous coagonist of retinal ganglion NMDA receptors. I used a mutant mouse lacking functional serine racemase (SRKO), the only known D-serine synthesizing enzyme in mammals, to show that retinal ganglion cells depend on D-serine for NMDAR activation (chapter 1).
Most changes in NMDA receptor currents during synaptic activity have been attributed to glutamate fluctuations against a steady background of coagonist, excluding the possibility of dynamic coagonist release. The retina is a particularly useful system to determine if coagonist release occurs in the nervous system, because it can be naturally stimulated with light. By saturating the glutamate binding site of NMDA receptors, I was able to measure coagonist release during light-evoked responses. Coagonist release was detected in retinal ganglion cell light responses and depended on α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic AMPA receptors. Coagonist release was significantly lower in SRKO mice (chapter 2). By directly measuring extracellular D-serine using capillary electrophoresis, I demonstrated that D-serine can be released from the intact mouse retina through an AMPA receptor dependent mechanism (chapter 3). The collective works put forth in this thesis imply that activity-dependent modulation of D-serine availability may add an extra dimension to NMDA receptor coincidence detection in the central nervous system.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2011. Major: Neuroscience. Advisor: Robert F. Miller. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 82 pages.
Sullivan, Steven J..
Dynamic regulation of the NMDA receptor coagonist D-serine in the mammalian retina..
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.