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Neural Plast. 2013;2013:145387. doi: 10.1155/2013/145387. Epub 2013 Dec 9.

GluN3A: an NMDA receptor subunit with exquisite properties and functions.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Geneva, CMU, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland ; Cellular Neurobiology, Departamento de Neurociencias, Centro de Investigacion M├ędica Aplicada (CIMA), Universidad de Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Geneva, CMU, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland.


N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) are pivotal for synaptic plasticity and memory formation. Conventional NMDAR consist of heterotetrameric structures composed of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits. A third subunit, GluN3, can also assemble with NMDAR subunits giving a remarkable modification of their heteromeric structure, forming a "nonconventional" NMDAR. As a consequence, the stoichiometry and kinetic properties of the receptors are dramatically changed. Among the GluN3 family, the GluN3A subunit has been the focus of a large amount of studies during recent years. These studies reveal that GluN3A is transiently expressed during development and could play a role in the fine tuning of neuronal networks as well as associated diseases. Moreover, GluN3A distribution outside the postsynaptic densities, including perisynaptic astrocytes, places it at a strategic position to play an important role in the interactions between neurons and glial cells. This review highlights GluN3A properties and addresses its role in neurophysiology and associated pathologies.

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