Sustained saturating level of glycine induces changes in NR2B-containing-NMDA receptor localization in the CA1 region of the hippocampus

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Post-synaptic actions of glycine are terminated by specialized transporters. There are two genes encoding glycine transporters, GlyT1 and GlyT2. Glycine acts as a co-agonist at N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamatergic receptors (NMDARs). Blockage of GlyT1 enhances NMDAR function by controlling ambient glycine concentrations. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of acute hippocampal slices, we investigated NMDAR kinetics of CA1 pyramidal neurons of mice expressing 50% of GlyT1 (GlyT1+/−). In this study, we report that the glycine modulatory site of the NMDAR at CA1 synapses is saturated in GlyT1+/− but not in wild-type (WT) mice. We also found that the effect of ifenprodil, a highly selective NR2B-containing-NMDAR antagonist, is significantly reduced at CA1 synapses in GlyT1+/− compared to WT mice while immunoblotting experiments do not show significant differences for NR1, NR2A-B-C-D subunits in both types of mice, suggesting alteration in NR2B-containing-NMDAR localization under a state of chronic saturating level of endogenous glycine. Using a pharmacological approach with MK-801 and DL-TBOA, we discriminated synaptic vis-à-vis extra-synaptic NMDARs. We found that NR2B-containing-NMDARs are expressed at a higher level in the extra-synaptic area of CA1 pyramidal neurons from GlyT1+/− compared to WT mice. Our results demonstrate that chronic saturating level of glycine induces significant changes in NMDAR localization and kinetic. Therefore, results from our study should help to gain a better understanding of the role of glycine in pathological conditions.

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