Excitatory amino acid transporters: Roles in glutamatergic neurotransmission

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HighlightsGlutamate transporters control the profile of extracellular glutamate.EAATs are secondary active transporters and possess an uncoupled anion conductance.Glutamate transporters influence activation of synaptic and perisynaptic receptors.The spatio-temporal profile of glutamate influences synaptic plasticity.Excitatory amino acid transporters or EAATs are the major transport mechanism for extracellular glutamate in the nervous system. This family of five carriers not only displays an impressive ability to regulate ambient extracellular glu concentrations but also regulate the temporal and spatial profile of glu after vesicular release. This dynamic form of regulation mediates several characteristic of synaptic, perisynaptic, and spillover activation of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. EAATs function through a secondary active, electrogenic process but also possess a thermodynamically uncoupled ligand gated anion channel activity, both of which have been demonstrated to play a role in regulation of cellular activity. This review will highlight the inception of EAATs as a focus of research, the transport and channel functionality of the carriers, and then describe how these properties are used to regulate glutamatergic neurotransmission.

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