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Neuron. 2007 Sep 6;55(5):779-85.

Rapid bidirectional switching of synaptic NMDA receptors.

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Departments of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Synaptic NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs) play important roles in synaptic plasticity, brain development, and pathology. In the last few years, the view of NMDARs as relatively fixed components of the postsynaptic density has changed. A number of studies have now shown that both the number of receptors and their subunit compositions can be altered. During development, the synaptic NMDARs subunit composition changes, switching from predominance of NR2B-containing to NR2A-containing receptors, but little is known about the mechanisms involved in this developmental process. Here, we report that, depending on the pattern of NMDAR activation, the subunit composition of synaptic NMDARs is under extremely rapid, bidirectional control at neonatal synapses. This switching, which is at least as rapid as that seen with AMPARs, will have immediate and dramatic consequences on the integrative capacity of the synapse.

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