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Neuron. 1991 Oct;7(4):593-603.

Both NMDA and non-NMDA subtypes of glutamate receptors are concentrated at synapses on cerebral cortical neurons in culture.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA receptors play a key role in synaptic transmission and plasticity in the vertebrate central nervous system. Previous studies have suggested that although both receptor types are present at synapses, the NMDA receptors may be relatively uniformly distributed. We have combined iontophoretic mapping of NMDA and non-NMDA receptors with immunohistochemical localization of synaptic vesicles along dendrites of single neocortical neurons to determine the relationship between NMDA and non-NMDA receptor distribution and the location of synapses. We find that when corrections for glutamate diffusion are made, NMDA responses are concentrated at focal "hot spots" that coincide with non-NMDA hot spots and that there is an excellent correlation between these hot spots and synapses.

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