Molecular cloning and functional expression of glutamate receptor subunit genes

Science. 1990 Aug 31;249(4972):1033-7. doi: 10.1126/science.2168579.


Three closely related genes, GluR1, GluR2, and GluR3, encode receptor subunits for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. The proteins encoded by the individual genes form homomeric ion channels in Xenopus oocytes that are sensitive to glutamatergic agonists such as kainate and quisqualate but not to N-methyl-D-aspartate, indicating that binding sites for kainate and quisqualate exist on single receptor polypeptides. In addition, kainate-evoked conductances are potentiated in oocytes expressing two or more of the cloned receptor subunits. Electrophysiological responses obtained with certain subunit combinations show agonist profiles and current-voltage relations that are similar to those obtained in vivo. Finally, in situ hybridization histochemistry reveals that these genes are transcribed in shared neuroanatomical loci. Thus, as with gamma-aminobutyric acid, glycine, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, native kainate-quisqualate-sensitive glutamate receptors form a family of heteromeric proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Gene Expression
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Oocytes / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / genetics*
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Glutamates
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter