Requirement for glycine in activation of NMDA-receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes

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Science  12 Aug 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4867, pp. 835-837
DOI: 10.1126/science.2841759


Receptors for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) are involved in many plastic and pathological processes in the brain. Glycine has been reported to potentiate NMDA responses in neurons and in Xenopus oocytes injected with rat brain messenger RNA. Glycine is now shown to be absolutely required for activation of NMDA receptors in oocytes. In voltage-clamped oocytes, neither perfusion nor rapid pressure application of NMDA onto messenger RNA-injected oocytes caused a distinct ionic current without added glycine. When glycine was added, however, NMDA evoked large inward currents. The concentration of glycine required to produce a half-maximal response was 670 nanomolar, and the glycine dose-response curve extrapolated to zero in the absence of glycine. Several analogs of glycine could substitute for glycine, among which D-serine and D-alanine were the most effective. The observation that D-amino acids are effective will be important in developing drugs targeted at the glycine site.

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