GluN3A NMDA receptor subunits: more enigmatic than ever?

J Physiol. 2022 Jan;600(2):261-276. doi: 10.1113/JP280879. Epub 2021 May 31.


Non-conventional N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) containing GluN3A subunits have unique biophysical, signalling and localization properties within the NMDAR family, and are typically thought to counterbalance functions of classical NMDARs made up of GluN1/2 subunits. Beyond their recognized roles in synapse refinement during postnatal development, recent evidence is building a wider perspective for GluN3A functions. Here we draw particular attention to the latest developments for this multifaceted and unusual subunit: from finely timed expression patterns that correlate with plasticity windows in developing brains or functional hierarchies in the mature brain to new insight onto presynaptic GluN3A-NMDARs, excitatory glycine receptors and behavioural impacts, alongside further connections to a range of brain disorders.

Keywords: Grin3a; Huntington; NMDA receptor; critical periods of plasticity; glycine receptors; nerual circuit refinements; postnatal development; somatostatin interneurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glycine*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / metabolism


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