Expression of 15 glutamate receptor subunits and various splice variants in tissue slices and single neurons of brainstem nuclei and potential functional implications

J Neurochem. 2000 Apr;74(4):1335-45. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2000.0741335.x.


Brainstem nuclei serve a diverse array of functions in many of which ionotropic glutamate receptors are known to be involved. However, little detailed information is available on the expression of different glutamate receptor subunits in specific nuclei. We used RT-PCR in mice to analyze the glutamate receptor subunit composition of the pre-Bötzinger complex, the hypoglossal nucleus, the nucleus of the solitary tract, and the inferior olive. Analyzing 15 receptor subunits and five variants, we found all four alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and six NMDA receptor (NR) subunits as well as three of five kainate (KA) receptors (GluR5, GluR6, and KA1) to be expressed in all nuclei. However, some distinct differences were observed: The inferior olive preferentially expresses flop variants of AMPA receptors, GluR7 is more abundant in the pre-Bötzinger complex than in the other nuclei, and NR2C is most prominent in the nucleus of the solitary tract. In single hypoglossal motoneurons and interneurons of the pre-Bötzinger complex investigation of GluR2 editing revealed strong expression of the GluR2-R editing variant, suggesting low Ca2+ permeability of AMPA receptors. Thus, Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors are unlikely to be the cause for the reported selective vulnerability of hypoglossal motoneurons during excitotoxic events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Brain Stem / cytology*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Mice
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, AMPA / genetics
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics*
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid / genetics
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 2