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Neuroscience. 1994 Dec;63(4):911-5.

Synaptic activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors in the parallel fibre-Purkinje cell pathway in rat cerebellar slices.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Group, Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent, U.K.


Glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, acts through two broad classes of receptors: ion channel-linked (ionotropic) receptors, which include N-methyl-D-aspartate and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors, and metabotropic receptors which couple via G-proteins to intracellular messenger cascades. Seven subtypes of mGluR are known to exist but their roles in synaptic physiology are poorly understood. In cerebellar Purkinje cells, application of the mGluR agonist, trans-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid, or the active enantiomer, 1S,3R-ACPD, results in a depolarization associated with an inward current and an elevation of intracellular Ca2+ (for review see Ref. 29). Moreover, using an extracellular (grease-gap) technique that monitors population responses, we have previously discovered that, in Purkinje cells of adult rat cerebellum, brief tetanic stimulation of the glutamatergic parallel fibre input gives rise to a slow depolarising synaptic potential that is resistant to ionotropic glutamate receptor blockers and to antagonists acting at GABA receptors. It was suggested that this novel potential is mediated by metabotropic receptors. The advent of antagonists for metabotropic receptors has allowed us to test this hypothesis. We find that the S-enantiomer of alpha-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine stereoselectively antagonizes the slow synaptic potential recorded using the grease-gap method. The results were confirmed by intracellular recording from Purkinje cells. To our knowledge this is the first direct evidence of an mGluR-mediated EPSP in intact brain tissue.

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