Invertebrate Neuroscience

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 125–134 | Cite as

NMDA receptor expression and C terminus structure in the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis and long-term potentiation across the Metazoa

  • Nathan J. KennyEmail author
  • Peter K. DeardenEmail author
Original Paper


The C termini of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor NR2 subunits are thought to play a major role in the molecular establishment of memory across the Bilateria, via the phenomenon known as long-term potentiation (LTP). Despite their long history of use as models in the study of memory, the expression and structure of the NR2 subunit in the Lophotrochozoa has remained uncategorized. Here, we report the phylogenic relationships of NR subunits across the Bilateria, and the cloning and in situ analysis of expression of NMDA NR1 and NR2 subunits in the monogont rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. RNA in situ hybridization suggests expression of NMDA receptor subunits in B. plicatilis is neural, consistent with expression observed in other species, and ours is the first report confirming NR2 expression in the lophotrochozoan clade. However, the single NR2 subunit identified in B. plicatilis was found to lack the long C terminal domain found in vertebrates, which is believed to modulate LTP. Further investigation revealed that mollusc and annelid NR2 subunits possess long intracellular C terminal domains. As data from molluscs (and particularly Aplysia californica) are the basis for much of our understanding of LTP, understanding how these diverse lophotrochozoan C termini function in vivo will have many implications for how we consider the evolution of the molecular control of learning and memory across the Metazoa as a whole and interpret the results of experiments into this vital component of cognition.


Rotifer NMDA receptors Learning Long-term potentiation Lophotrochozoa 



We would like to thank the many members of our laboratories for all their help, support and encouragement in the completion of this manuscript, and in particular we thank Dr. James Smith, for all his work in setting up rotifer as a model in our laboratory. We thank also the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their improvements to this manuscript. This work was supported by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grant (UOO0602) to P.K.D.

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

10158_2013_154_MOESM1_ESM.eps (7.7 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1: MAFFT alignment of full length NMDA subunits, presented using Jalview (Clamp et al. 2004). Sequences are coloured according to the Clustalx colour scheme. The portion of the ligand-gated ion channel domain used for phylogenetic analysis (see Supplementary Figure 2) is found from positions 784-1240 and C terminal domains begin at position 1260 of this alignment. Degree of conservation, Jalview-derived histogram of divergence at each locus and consensus sequence shown immediately underneath alignment (.eps file) (EPS 7889 kb)
10158_2013_154_MOESM2_ESM.eps (2.4 mb)
Supplementary Figure 2: Portion of alignment of NMDA subunits used for phylogenetic analysis, presented using Jalview (Clamp et al. 2004). Sequences are coloured according to the Clustalx colour scheme. Degree of conservation, Jalview-derived histogram of divergence at each locus and consensus sequence shown immediately underneath alignment (.eps file) (EPS 2446 kb)
10158_2013_154_MOESM3_ESM.pptx (2.4 mb)
Supplementary Figure 3: NMDA NR2 intron/exon structure, presented using FancyGene (Rambaldi, 2009). UTR information shown when full transcript sequence available. In other cases where this information is not known, exons shown represent the CDS. The ligand-gated ion channel sequence used in phylogenetic analysis is indicated in black, while the C terminal domain start site (position 1260, Supplementary Figure 1) is indicated with a larger vertical marker. Where UTR start and end points are not particularly evident (M, musculus NR2A and NR2B) these are also indicated with a marker. The C termini of M, musculus NR2A and NR2B are shown in greater detail, with the last 50,000 nucleotides of this locus at greater magnification at bottom. H. magnipapillata NR subunit shown to allow comparison to a possible ancestral form (PPTX 2488 kb)
10158_2013_154_MOESM4_ESM.docx (150 kb)
Supplementary File 1: Sequence of all NMDA receptor subunits used in phylogenetic analysis (.txt) (DOCX 150 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Evolution and Development, Genetics Otago and Gravida, The National Centre for Growth and Development, Biochemistry DepartmentUniversity of OtagoDunedin, AotearoaNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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