AMPA receptor trafficking at excitatory synapses

Neuron. 2003 Oct 9;40(2):361-79. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00640-8.


Excitatory synapses in the CNS release glutamate, which acts primarily on two sides of ionotropic receptors: AMPA receptors and NMDA receptors. AMPA receptors mediate the postsynaptic depolarization that initiates neuronal firing, whereas NMDA receptors initiate synaptic plasticity. Recent studies have emphasized that distinct mechanisms control synaptic expression of these two receptor classes. Whereas NMDA receptor proteins are relatively fixed, AMPA receptors cycle synaptic membranes on and off. A large family of interacting proteins regulates AMPA receptor turnover at synapses and thereby influences synaptic strength. Furthermore, neuronal activity controls synaptic AMPA receptor trafficking, and this dynamic process plays a key role in the synaptic plasticity that is thought to underlie aspects of learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence / physiology
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Receptors, AMPA / chemistry
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Synapses / chemistry
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • Receptors, AMPA