Activation of synaptic NMDA receptors induces membrane insertion of new AMPA receptors and LTP in cultured hippocampal neurons

Neuron. 2001 Jan;29(1):243-54. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00194-5.


Long-term potentiation (LTP) of excitatory transmission in the hippocampus likely contributes to learning and memory. The mechanisms underlying LTP at these synapses are not well understood, although phosphorylation and redistribution of AMPA receptors may be responsible for this form of synaptic plasticity. We show here that miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) in cultured hippocampal neurons reliably demonstrate LTP when postsynaptic NMDA receptors are briefly stimulated with glycine. LTP of these synapses is accompanied by a rapid insertion of native AMPA receptors and by increased clustering of AMPA receptors at the surface of dendritic membranes. Both LTP and glycine-facilitated AMPA receptor insertion are blocked by intracellular tetanus toxin (TeTx), providing evidence that AMPA receptors are inserted into excitatory synapses via a SNARE-dependent exocytosis during LTP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Membrane Fusion / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Calcium
  • Glycine