Molecular basis of NMDA receptor functional diversity

Published on April 2, 2014   43 min

Other Talks in the Series: Synapses, Neurotransmitters and Receptor Channels

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0:00
Hello, my name is Jon Johnson. I'm a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. My talk concerns NMDA receptors, a type of glutamate receptor found in most fast excitatory synapses in vertebrate nervous systems. I will describe some of the basic characteristics and functions of NMDA receptors, diversity of NMDA receptor properties, and the molecular basis for NMDA receptor diversity.
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I will start by introducing the function, structure, and some of the salient properties of NMDA receptors.
0:33
NMDA receptors are found at glutamatergic synapses, the most common type of fast excitatory synapse on vertebrate neurons. Glutamate released from the presynaptic terminal of glutamatergic synapses binds to and activates glutamate receptors in the postsynaptic membrane. Typically, there is a mix of several types of glutamate receptors including NMDA receptors in the postsynaptic membrane at each glutamatergic synapse. NMDA receptors are ionotropic glutamate receptors, which are ligand-gated ion channels that incorporate both agonist binding sites and an ion channel into a single molecular complex. All ionotropic glutamate receptors are tetrameric proteins-- that is, proteins composed of four subunits. An ion channel is formed and surrounded by the four subunits.
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There are three types of channel-forming ionotropic glutamate receptors-- NMDA, AMPA, and kainate receptors. All three receptor types can be found in the postsynaptic membrane of glutamatergic synapses as well as at other locations on neurons. It is very common to find NMDA and AMPA receptors co-localized postsynaptically. The subunits that can contribute to each type of glutamate receptor are shown here. The subunits that form NMDA receptors are divided into three groups. A single gene encodes the Glu in one subunit, which exists as eight splice variants. There are four types of Glu in two subunits and two types of Glu in three subunits, each encoded by a separate gene.
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Molecular basis of NMDA receptor functional diversity

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