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J Neurosci. 2001 May 1;21(9):3063-72.

An NMDA receptor ER retention signal regulated by phosphorylation and alternative splicing.

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  • 1Program in Cell and Molecular Biology and Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Formation of mature excitatory synapses requires the assembly and delivery of NMDA receptors to the neuronal plasma membrane. A key step in the trafficking of NMDA receptors to synapses is the exit of newly assembled receptors from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Here we report the identification of an RXR-type ER retention/retrieval motif in the C-terminal tail of the NMDA receptor subunit NR1 that regulates receptor surface expression in heterologous cells and in neurons. In addition, we show that PKC phosphorylation and an alternatively spliced consensus type I PDZ-binding domain suppress ER retention. These results demonstrate a novel quality control function for alternatively spliced C-terminal domains of NR1 and implicate both phosphorylation and potential PDZ-mediated interactions in the trafficking of NMDA receptors through early stages of the secretory pathway.

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