Astrocytic glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) is responsible for 90% of forebrain glutamate uptake in the adult CNS. Retinoic acid (RA) is a potent regulator of neural cell differentiation and neuronal maturation in the developing CNS through activation of RA receptors/retinoic X receptors (RXRs) or non-genomic mechanisms. Although rat GLT-1 contains several RXR binding regions, RA-triggered RXR mechanisms regulating GLT-1 expression remain unknown. RA applied at submicromolar concentrations for 24 h significantly reduced GLT-1 mRNA and membrane levels in astrocytes and dibutyryl cAMP (dbcAMP)-primed astrocytes. An RXR agonist reduced astrocytic GLT-1 mRNA expression, whereas an RXR antagonist blocked the effects of RA on the reduction of astrocytic GLT-1 mRNA expression. Electrophoresis motility shift assay indicated that RA-treatment increased astrocytic RXR-DNA binding activity. RA-induced reduction in GLT-1 mRNA expression was also observed in dbcAMP-primed astrocytes. Through lentivirus-mediated astrocytic over-expression of rat GLT-1, levels of GLT-1 in the processes of dbcAMP-treated astrocytes were attenuated by exposure to RA. The protein kinase C inhibitor, Bis I, restored GLT-1 distribution in the processes of RA-treated dbcAMP-primed astrocytes. These results suggest that RA reduces astrocytic GLT-1 levels through both RXR-mediated inhibition at the transcriptional level and triggering activation of protein kinase C which reduces cell surface GLT-1 levels.
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