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J Neurosci Res. 2004 Jun 1;76(5):662-77.

AMPA receptor subunit expression in chick vestibular nucleus neurons.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Neuroscience Program, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington DC 20037, USA.


The principal cells of the chick tangential nucleus are vestibular nucleus neurons whose responses on vestibular nerve stimulation are abolished by glutamate receptor antagonists. Using confocal microscopy, we quantified immunolabeling for AMPA receptor subunits GluR1, GluR2, GluR2/3, and GluR4 in principal cells that were identified by the neuronal marker, microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2). This work was focused primarily on 9 days after hatching (H9) when the principal cells have acquired some important mature electrophysiologic properties. At H9, the principal cell bodies stained strongly with GluR2/3 and GluR4, whereas GluR1 and GluR2 produced weak signals. Moreover, GluR2/3 and GluR4 receptor subunit clusters in principal cell bodies and dendrites were localized at sites contacted by biocytin-labeled vestibular nerve terminals and synaptotagmin-labeled terminals. Developmental expression of AMPA receptor immunolabeling was studied in the principal cell bodies at embryonic day 16 (E16) and hatching (H1). At E16, labeling for GluR4 was already strong, and continued to increase at H1 and H9. In contrast, GluR2/3 labeling was weak at E16, but increased significantly at H1, and more so by H9. GluR1 and GluR2 were present at low levels at E16 and H1. From E16 to H9, overall AMPA receptor subunit expression increased steadily, with H9 showing the strongest labeling. Ultrastructural observations at E16 and H3 confirmed the presence of immunogold labeling for AMPA receptor subunits at the vestibular nerve and non-vestibular nerve synapses on the principal cell bodies. In summary, these results indicate that GluR3 and GluR4 are the major AMPA receptor subunits involved in excitatory synaptic transmission in principal cells during the perinatal period.

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