Ca2+ permeability of KA-AMPA--gated glutamate receptor channels depends on subunit composition

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Science  10 May 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5007, pp. 851-853
DOI: 10.1126/science.1709304


NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and non-NMDA receptors represent the two major classes of ion channel-linked glutamate receptors. Unlike the NMDA receptor channels, non-NMDA receptor channels have usually been thought to conduct monovalent cations only. Non-NMDA receptor ion channels that can be gated by kainic acid (KA) and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) are formed by the glutamate receptor subunits GluR1, GluR2, and GluR3. These subunits were expressed in various combinations in Xenopus oocytes so that their permeability to divalent cations could be studied. At physiological resting potentials, KA and AMPA elicited inward calcium currents in oocytes expressing GluR1, GluR3, and GluR1 plus GluR3. In contrast, oocytes expressing GluR1 plus GluR2 or GluR3 plus GluR2 showed no such permeability. Thus, in neurons expressing certain KA-AMPA receptor subunits, glutamate may trigger calcium-dependent intracellular events by activating non-NMDA receptors.

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