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Calcium/Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase II and Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase Pathways Mediate the Antidepressant Action of Ketamine

Published:December 01, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.11.028

      Abstract

      Background

      Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, which on administration produces fast-acting antidepressant responses in patients with major depressive disorder. Yet, the mechanism underlying the antidepressant action of ketamine remains unclear.

      Methods

      To unravel the mechanism of action of ketamine, we treated wild-type C57BL/6 mice with calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) specific inhibitor tatCN21 peptide. We also used eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K) (also known as CaMKIII) knockout mice. We analyzed the effects biochemically and behaviorally, using the forced swim, tail suspension, and novelty suppressed feeding tests.

      Results

      Consistent with the literature, one of the major pathways mediating the antidepressant action of ketamine was reduction of phosphorylation of eEF2 via eEF2K. Specifically, knocking out eEF2K in mice eliminated phosphorylation of eEF2 at threonine at position 56, resulting in increased protein synthesis, and made mice resistant both biochemically and behaviorally to the antidepressant effects of ketamine. In addition, administration of ketamine led to differential regulation of CaMKII function, manifested as autoinhibition (pT305 phosphorylation) followed by autoactivation (pT286) of CaMKIIα in the hippocampus and cortex. The inhibition phase of CaMKII, which lasted 10 to 20 minutes after administration of ketamine, occurred concurrently with eEF2K-dependent increased protein synthesis. Moreover, ketamine administration–dependent delayed induction of GluA1 (24 hours) was regulated by the activation of CaMKII. Importantly, systemic administration of the CaMKII inhibitor tatCN21 increased global protein synthesis and induced behavioral resistance to ketamine.

      Conclusions

      Our data suggest that drugs that selectively target CaMKs and regulate protein synthesis offer novel strategies for treatment of major depressive disorder.

      Keywords

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