Glutamate Receptors and Glutamatergic Synapses

  • P. Ascher
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 29)


L-glutamate is a strong candidate for the role of neurotransmitter at many interneuronal synapses in both vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as at many neuromuscular junctions in invertebrates. It has been clear for many years that glutamate activates a variety of receptors, but the precise characterization of these receptors has lagged behind that of the receptors for other transmitters, such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline or GABA. One of the primary reasons for this delay is that, in vertebrates, glutamate receptors are mostly found in central neurons, which, until recently, have not lent themselves to quantitative pharmacological studies. New techniques (in particular the patch-clamp (Hamill et al., 1981), and the expression of glutamate receptors in oocytes), used in conjunction with newly discovered selective agonists and antagonists, have profoundly renewed the field, and there is now a relatively broad consensus concerning the classification of glutamate receptors. If one considers only the case of vertebrate receptors, the best-known effects of glutamate are fast cationic conductance increases which are probably mediated by receptors directly coupled to the ionic channels (“ionotropic receptors”). However, some responses to glutamate appear to use a different type of receptor that is coupled to a G-protein (“metabotropic receptor”) that in turn leads to the production of IP3 and the release of Ca from intracellular stores. The “ionotropic receptors” can be separated into two main groups: those activated by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and those insensitive to this compound (“non-NMDA” receptors).


NMDA Receptor Glutamate Receptor Excitatory Amino Acid Purkinje Neuron Parallel Fiber 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Ascher
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de NeurobiologieEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance

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