VGLUTs: 'exciting' times for glutamatergic research?

Neurosci Res. 2006 Aug;55(4):343-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2006.04.016. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Glutamate is first synthesized in the cytoplasm of presynaptic terminals before being loaded into synaptic vesicles, which fuse with the plasma membrane, releasing their contents, in response to neuronal activity. The important process of synaptic vesicle loading is mediated by a transport protein, collectively known as vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT). Controlling the activity of these transporters could potentially modulate the efficacy of glutamatergic neurotransmission. In recent years, three isoforms of mammalian VGLUTs have been cloned and molecularly characterized in detail. Probing these three VGLUTs has been proven to be the most reliable way of visualizing sites of glutamate release in the mammalian CNS. Immunohistochemical studies on VGLUTs suggest that glutamatergic neurons are categorized into subgroups depending on which VGLUT isoform they contain. Recent studies on VGLUT1-deficient mice have led various models to be postulated concerning the possible roles of VGLUTs in synaptic physiology, such as presynaptic regulation of quantal size and activity-dependent short-term plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exocytosis / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics
  • Mice, Knockout / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / classification
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins
  • Glutamic Acid