Excitatory amino acid transporters: roles in glutamatergic neurotransmission

Neurochem Int. 2014 Jul;73:172-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2013.12.008. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Excitatory amino acid transporters or EAATs are the major transport mechanism for extracellular glutamate in the nervous system. This family of five carriers not only displays an impressive ability to regulate ambient extracellular glu concentrations but also regulate the temporal and spatial profile of glu after vesicular release. This dynamic form of regulation mediates several characteristic of synaptic, perisynaptic, and spillover activation of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. EAATs function through a secondary active, electrogenic process but also possess a thermodynamically uncoupled ligand gated anion channel activity, both of which have been demonstrated to play a role in regulation of cellular activity. This review will highlight the inception of EAATs as a focus of research, the transport and channel functionality of the carriers, and then describe how these properties are used to regulate glutamatergic neurotransmission.

Keywords: Glutamate; Ion channels; Plasticity; Receptors; Synapse; Transporters.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / genetics
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Glutamic Acid