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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2006;(175):137-50.

The diverse roles of vesicular glutamate transporter 3.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, UCSF School of Medicine, 600 16th St., GH-N272B, San Francisco CA, 94143-2140, USA.


The expression of vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) 1 and 2 accounts for the ability of most traditionally accepted excitatory neurons to release glutamate by exocytosis. However, several cell populations (serotonin and dopamine neurons) have been demonstrated to release glutamate in vitro and do not obviously express these transporters. Rather, these neurons express a novel, third isoform that in fact appears confined to neurons generally associated with a transmitter other than glutamate. They include serotonin and possibly dopamine neurons, cholinergic interneurons in the striatum, and GABAergic interneurons of the hippocampus and cortex. Although the physiological role of VGLUT3 remains largely conjectural, several observations in vivo suggest that the glutamate release mediated by VGLUT3 has an important role in synaptic transmission, plasticity, and development.

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