Ionotropic glutamate receptors
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In the brain, most fast excitatory synaptic transmission is mediated through L-glutamate acting on postsynaptic ionotropic glutamate receptors. These receptors are of two kinds—the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA)/kainate (non-NMDA) and theN-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are thought to be colocalized onto the same postsynaptic elements. This excitatory transmission can be modulated both upward and downward, long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), respectively. Whether the expression of LTP/LTD is pre-or postsynaptically located (or both) remains an enigma. This article will focus on what postsynaptic modifications of the ionotropic glutamate receptors may possibly underly long-term potentiation/depression. It will discuss the character of LTP/LTD with respect to the temporal characteristics and to the type of changes that appears in the non-NMDA and NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic currents, and what constraints these findings put on the possible expression mechanism(s) for LTP/LTD. It will be submitted that if a modification of the glutamate receptors does underly LTP/LTD, an increase/decrease in the number of functional receptors is the most plausible alternative. This change in receptor number will have to include a coordinated change of both the non-NMDA and the NMDA receptors.