EAAT5 glutamate transporter rapidly binds glutamate with micromolar affinity in mouse rods

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Light responses of rod photoreceptor cells in the retina are encoded by changes in synaptic glutamate release that is in turn shaped by reuptake involving EAAT5 plasma membrane glutamate transporters. Heterologously expressed EAAT5 activates too slowly upon glutamate binding to support significant uptake. We tested EAAT5 activation in mouse rods in vivo by stimulating glutamate transporter anion currents (IA(glu)) with UV flash photolysis of MNI-glutamate, varying flash intensity to vary glutamate levels. Responses to uncaging rose rapidly with time constants of 2–3 ms, similar to IA(glu) events arising from spontaneous release. Spontaneous release events and IA(glu) evoked by weak flashes also declined with similar time constants of 40–50 ms. Stronger flashes evoked responses that decayed more slowly. Time constants were twofold faster at 35°C, suggesting that they reflect transporter kinetics, not diffusion. Selective EAAT1 and EAAT2 inhibitors had no significant effect, suggesting IA(glu) in rods arises solely from EAAT5. We calibrated glutamate levels attained during flash photolysis by expressing a fluorescent glutamate sensor iGluSnFr in cultured epithelial cells. We compared fluorescence at different glutamate concentrations to fluorescence evoked by photolytic uncaging of MNI-glutamate. The relationship between flash intensity and glutamate yielded EC50 values for EAAT5 amplitude, decay time, and rise time of ∼10 μM. Micromolar affinity and rapid activation of EAAT5 in rods show it can rapidly bind synaptic glutamate. However, we also found that EAAT5 currents are saturated by the synchronous release of only a few vesicles, suggesting limited capacity and a role for glial uptake at higher release rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202313349
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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