Mechanisms of glutamate transport

Physiol Rev. 2013 Oct;93(4):1621-57. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00007.2013.


L-Glutamate is the predominant excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system and plays important roles in a wide variety of brain functions, but it is also a key player in the pathogenesis of many neurological disorders. The control of glutamate concentrations is critical to the normal functioning of the central nervous system, and in this review we discuss how glutamate transporters regulate glutamate concentrations to maintain dynamic signaling mechanisms between neurons. In 2004, the crystal structure of a prokaryotic homolog of the mammalian glutamate transporter family of proteins was crystallized and its structure determined. This has paved the way for a better understanding of the structural basis for glutamate transporter function. In this review we provide a broad perspective of this field of research, but focus primarily on the more recent studies with a particular emphasis on how our understanding of the structure of glutamate transporters has generated new insights.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / analysis
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Glutamates / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / analysis
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / physiology*


  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Glutamates
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins