AMPAR trafficking in synapse maturation and plasticity

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Dec;70(23):4411-30. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1309-1. Epub 2013 Mar 9.


Glutamate ionotropic alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptors (AMPARs) mediate most fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. The content and composition of AMPARs in postsynaptic membranes (which determine synaptic strength) are dependent on the regulated trafficking of AMPAR subunits in and out of the membranes. AMPAR trafficking is a key mechanism that drives nascent synapse development, and is the main determinant of both Hebbian and homeostatic plasticity in mature synapses. Hebbian plasticity seems to be the biological substrate of at least some forms of learning and memory; while homeostatic plasticity (also known as synaptic scaling) keeps neuronal circuits stable by maintaining changes within a physiological range. In this review, we examine recent findings that provide further understanding of the role of AMPAR trafficking in synapse maturation, Hebbian plasticity, and homeostatic plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 2
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1