Super-resolution imaging reveals the nanoscale organization of metabotropic glutamate receptors at presynaptic active zones

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Science Advances  15 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 16, eaay7193
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7193


G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a fundamental role in the modulation of synaptic transmission. A pivotal example is provided by the metabotropic glutamate receptor type 4 (mGluR4), which inhibits glutamate release at presynaptic active zones (AZs). However, how GPCRs are organized within AZs to regulate neurotransmission remains largely unknown. Here, we applied two-color super-resolution imaging by direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to investigate the nanoscale organization of mGluR4 at parallel fiber AZs in the mouse cerebellum. We find an inhomogeneous distribution, with multiple nanodomains inside AZs, each containing, on average, one to two mGluR4 subunits. Within these nanodomains, mGluR4s are often localized in close proximity to voltage-dependent CaV2.1 channels and Munc-18-1, which are both essential for neurotransmitter release. These findings provide previously unknown insights into the molecular organization of GPCRs at AZs, suggesting a likely implication of a close association between mGluR4 and the secretory machinery in modulating synaptic transmission.

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