Glutamate-operated ion channels (GluR channels) of the L-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)-kainate subtype are found in both neurons and glial cells of the central nervous system. These channels are assembled from the GluR-A, -B, -C, and -D subunits; channels containing a GluR-B subunit show an outwardly rectifying current-voltage relation and low calcium permeability, whereas channels lacking the GluR-B subunit are characterized by a doubly rectifying current-voltage relation and high calcium permeability. Most cell types in the central nervous system coexpress several subunits, including GluR-B. However, Bergmann glia in rat cerebellum do not express GluR-B subunit genes. In a subset of cultured cerebellar glial cells, likely derived from Bergmann glial cells. GluR channels exhibit doubly rectifying current-voltage relations and high calcium permeability, whereas GluR channels of cerebellar neurons have low calcium permeability. Thus, differential expression of the GluR-B subunit gene in neurons and glia is one mechanism by which functional properties of native GluR channels are regulated.

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