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J Physiol. 2012 Mar 15;590(6):1357-68. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.225276. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Copper-dependent regulation of NMDA receptors by cellular prion protein: implications for neurodegenerative disorders.

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Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.


N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors mediate a wide range of important nervous system functions. Conversely, excessive NMDA receptor activity leads to cytotoxic calcium overload and neuronal damage in a wide variety of CNS disorders. It is well established that NMDA receptors are tightly regulated by a number of cell signalling pathways. Recently, it has been shown that NMDA receptor activity is modulated by cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) in a copper-dependent manner. Here we give an overview of the current state of knowledge concerning the novel concept of potent modulation of this receptor's kinetics by copper ions, and the interplay between NMDA receptors and PrP(C) in the context of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, pain and depression.

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