Lim Lab | Papers

PSD-95 Assembles a Ternary Complex with the N-Methyl-D-aspartic Acid Receptor and a Bivalent Neuronal NO Synthase PDZ Domain

Karen S. Christopherson, Brian J. Hillier, Wendell A. Lim, and David S. Bredt
Journal of Biological Chemistry 274, 27467-27473 (1999)

Nitric oxide (NO) biosynthesis in cerebellum is preferentially activated by calcium influx through N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors, suggesting that there is a specific link between these receptors and neuronal NO synthase (nNOS). Here, we find that PSD-95 assembles a postsynaptic protein complex containing nNOS and NMDA receptors. Formation of this complex is mediated by the PDZ domains of PSD-95, which bind to the COOH termini of specific NMDA receptor subunits. In contrast, nNOS is recruited to this complex by a novel PDZ-PDZ interaction in which PSD-95 recognizes an internal motif adjacent to the consensus nNOS PDZ domain. This internal motif is a structured "pseudo-peptide" extension of the nNOS PDZ that interacts with the peptide-binding pocket of PSD-95 PDZ2. This asymmetric interaction leaves the peptide-binding pocket of the nNOS PDZ domain available to interact with additional COOH-terminal PDZ ligands. Accordingly, we find that the nNOS PDZ domain can bind PSD-95 PDZ2 and a COOH-terminal peptide simultaneously. This bivalent nature of the nNOS PDZ domain further expands the scope for assembly of protein networks by PDZ domains.