A fundamental feature of Alzheimer disease (AD) is the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ), a peptide generated from the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Emerging evidence suggests that soluble Aβ oligomers adversely affect synaptic function, which leads to cognitive failure associated with AD. The Aβ-induced synaptic dysfunction has been attributed to the synaptic removal of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors (AMPARs); however, it is unclear how Aβ induces the loss of AMPARs at the synapses. In this study we have examined the potential involvement of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), a signaling molecule critical for AMPAR trafficking and function. We found that the synaptic pool of CaMKII was significantly decreased in cortical neurons from APP transgenic mice, and the density of CaMKII clusters at synapses was significantly reduced by Aβ oligomer treatment. In parallel, the surface expression of GluR1 subunit as well as AMPAR-mediated synaptic response and ionic current was selectively decreased in APP transgenic mice and Aβ-treated cultures. Moreover, the reducing effect of Aβ on AMPAR current density was mimicked and occluded by knockdown of CaMKII and blocked by overexpression of CaMKII. These results suggest that the Aβ-induced change in CaMKII subcellular distribution may underlie the removal of AMPARs from synaptic membrane by Aβ
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