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Prog Neurobiol. 2005 Nov;77(4):252-82.

N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and the regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways: a revolving neurochemical axis for therapeutic intervention?

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.


Excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS) is mediated by the release of glutamate from presynaptic terminals onto postsynaptic channels gated by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA (AMPA and KA) receptors. Extracellular signals control diverse neuronal functions and are responsible for mediating activity-dependent changes in synaptic strength and neuronal survival. Influx of extracellular calcium ([Ca(2+)](e)) through the NMDA receptor (NMDAR) is required for neuronal activity to change the strength of many synapses. At the molecular level, the NMDAR interacts with signaling modules, which, like the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) superfamily, transduce excitatory signals across neurons. Recent burgeoning evidence points to the fact that MAPKs play a crucial role in regulating the neurochemistry of NMDARs, their physiologic and biochemical/biophysical properties, and their potential role in pathophysiology. It is the purpose of this review to discuss: (i) the MAPKs and their role in a plethora of cellular functions; (ii) the role of MAPKs in regulating the biochemistry and physiology of NMDA receptors; (iii) the kinetics of MAPK-NMDA interactions and their biologic and neurochemical properties; (iv) how cellular signaling pathways, related cofactors and intracellular conditions affect NMDA-MAPK interactions and (v) the role of NMDA-MAPK pathways in pathophysiology and the evolution of disease conditions. Given the versatility of the NMDA-MAPK interactions, the NMDA-MAPK axis will likely form a neurochemical target for therapeutic interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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