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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Nov 10;95(23):13777-82.

The AMPA receptor subunit GluR-B in its Q/R site-unedited form is not essential for brain development and function.

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Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Jahnstrasse 29, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Calcium permeability of L-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate receptors (AMPARs) in excitatory neurons of the mammalian brain is prevented by coassembly of the GluR-B subunit, which carries an arginine (R) residue at a critical site of the channel pore. The codon for this arginine is created by site-selective adenosine deamination of an exonic glutamine (Q) codon at the pre-mRNA level. Thus, central neurons can potentially control the calcium permeability of AMPARs by the level of GluR-B gene expression as well as by the extent of Q/R-site editing, which in postnatal brain, positions the R codon into >99% of GluR-B mRNA. To study whether the small amount of unedited GluR-B is of functional relevance, we have generated mice carrying GluR-B alleles with an exonic arginine codon. We report that these mutants manifest no obvious deficiencies, indicating that AMPAR-mediated calcium influx into central neurons can be solely regulated by the levels of Q/R site-edited GluR-B relative to other AMPAR subunits. Notably, a targeted GluR-B gene mutant with 30% reduced GluR-B levels had 2-fold higher AMPAR-mediated calcium permeability in hippocampal pyramidal cells with no sign of cytotoxicity. This constitutes proof in vivo that elevated calcium influx through AMPARs need not generate pathophysiological consequences.

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