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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2006 Jul;32(3):299-314. Epub 2006 Jun 21.

Bi-directional control of motor neuron dendrite remodeling by the calcium permeability of AMPA receptors.

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Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheong-ju 361-763, Republic of Korea.


Motor neurons express particularly high levels of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR1(Q)flip (GluR1(Q)i) during the period in early postnatal life when their dendritic tree grows and becomes more branched. To investigate how GluR1-containing AMPA receptors contribute to dendrite morphogenesis, we characterized a mutant form of GluR1 (containing a histidine in the Q/R editing site) with unique electrophysiological properties. Most notably, AMPA receptors assembled from GluR1(H)i display less calcium permeability than AMPA receptors assembled from GluR1(Q)i. Expression of GluR1(Q)i in vivo or in vitro led to an increase in dendrite branching with no net change in the overall tree size while GluR1(H)i led to a loss of branches and a net reduction in overall tree size. GluR1(H)i-dependent dendrite atrophy is mediated by protein phosphatase 2B. The results suggest that the electrophysiological properties of cell surface AMPA receptors, specifically their permeability to calcium, can be a central determinant of whether the dendrites undergo activity-dependent branching or atrophy.

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