Glutamate is the most prominent neurotransmitter in the body, being present in over 50% of nervous tissue. Glutamate was initially discovered to be a neurotransmitter following insect studies in the early 1960s. The primary glutamate receptor is specifically sensitive to N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA), which causes direct action of the central pore of the receptor, an ion channel, to drive the neuron to depolarize. Depolarization will trigger the firing, or action potential of the neuron, therefore NMDA is excitatory.
Types of glutamate receptors
Glutamate receptors can be divided into two groups according to the mechanism by which their activation gives rise to a postsynaptic current. Ionotropic glutamate receptors form the ion channel pore that activates when glutamate binds to the receptor. Metabotropic glutamate receptors indirectly activate ion-channels on the plasma membrane through a signaling cascade that involves G proteins.
There are many specific subtypes of glutamate receptors, and it is customary to refer to primary subtypes by a chemical which binds to it more selectively than glutamate. The research, though, is ongoing as subtypes are identified and chemical affinities measured. There are several compounds which are routinely used in glutamate receptor research and associated with receptor subtypes:
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- Ohashi H, Maruyama T, Higashi-Matsumoto H, Nomoto T, Nishimura S, Takeuchi Y (2002). "A novel binding assay for metabotropic glutamate receptors using [3H] L-quisqualic acid and recombinant receptors" (subscription required). Z Naturforsch [C]. 57 (3-4): 348–55. PMID 12064739.
- "Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors". IUPHAR Database of Receptors and Ion Channels. International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology.
- Glutamate Receptors at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
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