Molecular cloning and functional expression of glutamate receptor subunit genes

Science  31 Aug 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4972, pp. 1033-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.2168579


Three closely related genes, GluR1, GluR2, and GluR3, encode receptor subunits for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. The proteins encoded by the individual genes form homomeric ion channels in Xenopus oocytes that are sensitive to glutamatergic agonists such as kainate and quisqualate but not to N-methyl-D-aspartate, indicating that binding sites for kainate and quisqualate exist on single receptor polypeptides. In addition, kainate-evoked conductances are potentiated in oocytes expressing two or more of the cloned receptor subunits. Electrophysiological responses obtained with certain subunit combinations show agonist profiles and current-voltage relations that are similar to those obtained in vivo. Finally, in situ hybridization histochemistry reveals that these genes are transcribed in shared neuroanatomical loci. Thus, as with gamma-aminobutyric acid, glycine, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, native kainate-quisqualate-sensitive glutamate receptors form a family of heteromeric proteins.

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