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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Jun;22(3):488-95. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.09.005. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

The regulation of glutamate receptor trafficking and function by TARPs and other transmembrane auxiliary subunits.

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Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair (CNNR), Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, United States.


At excitatory synapses in the brain, glutamate released from nerve terminals binds to glutamate receptors to mediate signaling between neurons. Glutamate receptors expressed in heterologous cells show ion channel activity. Recently, native glutamate receptors were shown to contain auxiliary subunits that modulate the trafficking and/or channel properties. The AMPA receptor (AMPAR) can contain TARP and CNIHs as the auxiliary subunits, whereas kainate receptor (KAR) can contain the Neto auxiliary subunit. Each of these auxiliary subunits uniquely modulates the glutamate receptors, and determines properties of native glutamate receptors. A thorough elucidation of the properties of native glutamate receptor complexes is indispensable for the understanding of the molecular machinery that regulates glutamate receptors and excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain.

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