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Journal Article

NMDA receptor function: subunit composition versus spatial distribution


Köhr,  Georg
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Köhr, G. (2006). NMDA receptor function: subunit composition versus spatial distribution. Cell and Tissue Research, 326(2), 439-446. doi:10.1007/s00441-006-0273-6.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-BB33-5
NMDA receptors (NMDARs) play a pivotal role in the regulation of neuronal communication and synaptic function in the central nervous system. The subunit composition and compartmental localization of NMDARs in neurons affect channel activity and downstream signaling. This review discusses the distinct NMDAR subtypes and their function at synaptic, perisynaptic, and extrasynaptic sites of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Many neurons express more than one of the modulatory NR2 subunits that participate in the formation of di- and/or triheteromeric channel assemblies (e.g., NR1/NR2A, NR1/NR2B, and/or NR1/NR2A/NR2B). Depending on the subunit composition and presence or absence of intracellular binding partners along the postsynaptic membrane, these NMDAR subtypes are allocated to distinct synaptic inputs converging onto a neuron or are distributed differentially among synaptic or extrasynaptic sites. These sites can carry NR2A and NR2B subunits, supporting the hypothesis that the spatial distribution of scaffolding and signaling complexes critically determines the full spectrum of NMDAR signaling.