Glial cells play a critical role in maintaining homeostatic ion concentration gradients. Salt-inducible kinase 3 (SIK3) regulates a gene expression program that controls K+ buffering in glia, and upregulation of this pathway suppresses seizure behavior in the eag, Shaker hyperexcitability mutant. Here we show that boosting the glial SIK3 K+ buffering pathway suppresses seizures in three additional molecularly diverse hyperexcitable mutants, highlighting the therapeutic potential of upregulating glial K+ buffering. We then explore additional mechanisms regulating glial K+ buffering. Fray, a transcriptional target of the SIK3 K+ buffering program, is a kinase that promotes K+ uptake by activating the Na+/K+/Cl- co-transporter, Ncc69. We show that the Wnk kinase phosphorylates Fray in Drosophila glia and that this activity is required to promote K+ buffering. This identifies Fray as a convergence point between the SIK3-dependent transcriptional program and Wnk-dependent post-translational regulation. Bypassing both regulatory mechanisms via overexpression of a constitutively active Fray in glia is sufficient to robustly suppress seizure behavior in multiple Drosophila models of hyperexcitability. Finally, we identify cortex glia as a critical cell type for regulation of seizure susceptibility, as boosting K+ buffering via expression of activated Fray exclusively in these cells is sufficient to suppress seizure behavior. These findings highlight Fray as a key convergence point for distinct K+ buffering regulatory mechanisms and cortex glia as an important locus for control of neuronal excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010581
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023


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