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J Neurosci. 2009 May 13;29(19):6320-35. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4630-08.2009.

Activity level-dependent synapse-specific AMPA receptor trafficking regulates transmission kinetics.

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Departments of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Central glutamatergic synapses may express AMPA-sensitive glutamate receptors (AMPA-Rs) with distinct gating properties and exhibit different transmission dynamics, which are important for computing various synaptic inputs received at different populations of synapses. However, how glutamatergic synapses acquire AMPA-Rs with distinct kinetics to influence synaptic integration remains poorly understood. Here I report synapse-specific trafficking of distinct AMPA-Rs in rat cortical layer 4 stellate and layer 5 pyramidal neurons. The analysis indicates that in single layer 4 stellate neurons thalamocortical synapses generate faster synaptic responses than intracortical synapses. Moreover, GluR1-containing AMPA-Rs traffic selectively into intracortical synapses, and this process requires sensory experience-dependent activity and slows down transmission kinetics. GluR4-containing AMPA-Rs traffic more heavily into thalamocortical synapses than intracortical synapses, and this process requires spontaneous synaptic activity and speeds up transmission kinetics. GluR2-containing AMPA-Rs traffic equally into both thalamocortical and intracortical synapses, and this process requires no synaptic activity and resets transmission kinetics. Notably, synaptic trafficking of distinct AMPA-Rs differentially regulates synaptic integration. Thus, synapse-specific AMPA-R trafficking coarsely sets and synaptic activity finely tunes transmission kinetics and integration properties at different synapses in central neurons.

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