Pre- and postsynaptic localization of NMDA receptor subunits at hippocampal mossy fibre synapses

Neuroscience. 2013 Jan 29;230:139-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.10.061. Epub 2012 Nov 14.


The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type of glutamate receptors is involved in synaptic plasticity in hippocampal mossy fibre-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses. The ultrastructural localization of NMDA receptor subunits at this synapse type is not known. By postembedding electron microscopic immunogold cytochemistry we show that the NMDA receptor subunits GluN1, GluN2A, GluN2B, GluN2C and GluN2D are located in postsynaptic membranes of mossy fibre as well as CA3 recurrent associational commissural synapses. In the mossy fibres the GluN1, GluN2B and GluN2D labelling patterns suggested that these subunits were located also presynaptically in nerve terminal membranes and in mossy fibre axons. GluN3B was predominantly present in mossy fibre synapses as compared to recurrent associational commissural synapses, showing a presynaptic labelling pattern. In conclusion, while the postsynaptic localization of GluN1, GluN2A, GluN2B, and GluN2D is in good agreement with the recent finding of NMDA receptor-dependent long term potentiation (LTP) at CA3 mossy fibre synapses, we propose that presynaptic GluN1, GluN2B, GluN2D and GluN3B subunits could be involved in plastic phenomena such as certain types of LTP and recurrent mossy fibre growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / metabolism
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / ultrastructure*
  • Post-Synaptic Density / metabolism*
  • Post-Synaptic Density / ultrastructure
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / ultrastructure


  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate