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Trends Neurosci. 2007 Sep;30(9):440-6. Epub 2007 Aug 10.

Functional relevance of neurotransmitter receptor heteromers in the central nervous system.

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Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


The existence of neurotransmitter receptor heteromers is becoming broadly accepted and their functional significance is being revealed. Heteromerization of neurotransmitter receptors produces functional entities that possess different biochemical characteristics with respect to the individual components of the heteromer. Neurotransmitter receptor heteromers can function as processors of computations that modulate cell signaling. Thus, the quantitative or qualitative aspects of the signaling generated by stimulation of any of the individual receptor units in the heteromer are different from those obtained during coactivation. Furthermore, recent studies demonstrate that some neurotransmitter receptor heteromers can exert an effect as processors of computations that directly modulate both pre- and postsynaptic neurotransmission. This is illustrated by the analysis of striatal receptor heteromers that control striatal glutamatergic neurotransmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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