The presence of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) of group II modulating glycine exocytosis from glycinergic nerve endings of mouse spinal cord was investigated. Purified synaptosomes were selectively prelabeled with [3H]glycine through the neuronal transporter GlyT2 and subsequently depolarized by superfusion with 12 mM KCl. The selective mGluR2/3 agonist LY379268 inhibited the K+-evoked overflow of [3H]glycine in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 about 0.2 nM). The effect of LY379268 was prevented by the selective mGluR2/3 antagonist LY341495 (IC50 about 1 nM). N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) inhibited [3H]glycine overflow with extraordinary potency (EC50 about 50 fmol). In contrast, glutamate was ineffective up to 0.1 nM, excluding that glutamate contamination of commercial NAAG samples is responsible for the reported activity of NAAG at mGluR3. LY341495 antagonized the NAAG inhibition of [3H]glycine release. The effect of a combination of maximally effective concentrations of LY379268 and NAAG exhibited no additivity. The non-hydrolysable NAAG analogue N-acetylaspartyl-β-linked glutamate (β-NAAG) antagonized NAAG and LY379268. In conclusion, our results show that glycinergic nerve endings in spinal cord are endowed with group II mGluRs mediating inhibition of glycine exocytosis. NAAG can activate these presynaptic receptors with extremely high affinity and with characteristics compatible with the reported mGluR3 pharmacology.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors’.