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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Nov 4;375(1):1-17.

Differential distribution of AMPA receptors and glutamate during pre- and postnatal development in the visual cortex of ferrets.

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Laboratory of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, NIHAC, Poolesville, Maryland 20837, USA.


Immunohistochemical methods were used to study the distribution and time-course of appearance of cells expressing glutamate and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoaxazole propionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors (GluR1 and GluR2/3) during development of the ferret visual cortex. Glutamate is present in many neurons in the ventricular zone, intermediate zone, developing cortical plate, and marginal zone as early as embryonic day (E) 34 (birth is at E41 in ferrets). Glutamate attains its adult distribution coincident with the completion of cellular migration. By contrast, GluR1 immunoreactivity emerges more slowly. By birth, GluR1 immunoreactivity is present only in a few neurons in the marginal zone and ventricular zone but is abundant in the marginal zone and subplate, where synaptogenesis commences. The number and staining intensity of GluR1-positive cells increases dramatically during the first two postnatal weeks and is maximal between the second and third week, before slowly declining to adult levels. Cortical cells immunopositive for GluR2/3 follow a similar pattern, although their distribution differs: GluR2/3-positive cells are mainly pyramidal cells. During the first postnatal week, GluR2/3 is also transiently present in fibers in the intermediate zone, which at this stage contains many thalamocortical and callosal and corticofugal axons. The abundance of glutamate at fetal stages, especially in the ventricular zone, is consistent with the previously proposed role of glutamate in mediating trophic effects in vivo, as previously demonstrated in vitro. The expression of AMPA receptors, as well as their transient overexpression, confirms the results of in situ hybridization studies and may imply a developmental role in neuronal differentiation for these receptors, in addition to their mature role in mediating cortical transmission.

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