Background: AMPA- (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid), kainate-, and NMDA- (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are the three main families of ionotropic glutamate-gated ion channels. AMPA receptors (AMPARs) are composed of four subunits (GluA1-4), which assemble as homo- or hetero-tetramers to mediate the majority of fast excitatory transmissions in the central nervous system. AMPARs are implicated in synapse formation, stabilization, and plasticity (1). In contrast to GluA2-containing AMPARs, AMPARs that lack GluA2 are permeable to calcium (2). Post-transcriptional modifications (alternative splicing, nuclear RNA editing) and post-translational modifications (glycosylation, phosphorylation) result in a very large number of permutations, fine-tuning the kinetic properties and surface expression of AMPARs representing key pathways to mediate synaptic plasticity (3). During development and mature states, some synapses exhibit “silent synapses” that lack functional AMPAR-mediated transmission. Synapses become “unsilenced” by post-translational modification of GluAs, particularly GluA1, which alters its kinetic properties and/or surface expression while other synaptic components, such as other glutamate receptors like NMDARs and postsynaptic scaffolding proteins like PSD95, remain unaltered. Conversely, reducing the AMPAR kinetic properties and surface expression can silence synapses. Key post-translational modifications implicated in regulating these processes include phosphorylation of GluA1 at Ser831 and Ser845 (4). Research studies have implicated activity-dependent changes in AMPARs in a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, and epilepsy (1).
Background: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a tyrosine kinase receptor for pleiotrophin (PTN), a growth factor involved in embryonic brain development (1-3). In ALK-expressing cells, PTN induces phosphorylation of both ALK and the downstream effectors IRS-1, Shc, PLCγ, and PI3 kinase (1). ALK was originally discovered as a nucleophosmin (NPM)-ALK fusion protein produced by a translocation (4). Investigators have found that the NPM-ALK fusion protein is a constitutively active, oncogenic tyrosine kinase associated with anaplastic lymphoma (4). Research literature suggests that activation of PLCγ by NPM-ALK may be a crucial step for its mitogenic activity and involved in the pathogenesis of anaplastic lymphomas (5).A distinct ALK oncogenic fusion protein involving ALK and echinoderm microtubule-associated protein like 4 (EML4) has been described in the research literature from a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line, with corresponding fusion transcripts present in some cases of lung adenocarcinoma. The short, amino-terminal region of the microtubule-associated protein EML4 is fused to the kinase domain of ALK (6-8).