The expanding social network of ionotropic glutamate receptors: TARPs and other transmembrane auxiliary subunits

Neuron. 2011 Apr 28;70(2):178-99. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.04.007.


Ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) underlie rapid, excitatory synaptic signaling throughout the CNS. After years of intense research, our picture of iGluRs has evolved from them being companionless in the postsynaptic membrane to them being the hub of dynamic supramolecular signaling complexes, interacting with an ever-expanding litany of other proteins that regulate their trafficking, scaffolding, stability, signaling, and turnover. In particular, the discovery that transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory proteins (TARPs) are AMPA receptor auxiliary subunits that are critical determinants of their trafficking, gating, and pharmacology has changed the way we think about iGluR function. Recently, a number of novel transmembrane proteins have been uncovered that may also serve as iGluR auxiliary proteins. Here we review pivotal developments in our understanding of the role of TARPs in AMPA receptor trafficking and gating, and provide an overview of how newly discovered transmembrane proteins expand our view of iGluR function in the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology*
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / genetics
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate
  • TARP