Subunit composition at the single-cell level explains functional properties of a glutamate-gated channel

Neuron. 1994 Feb;12(2):383-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(94)90279-8.


The diversity of known glutamate-gated channels has been markedly increased by the discovery of multiple subunits and their spliced and edited variants. These subunits can potentially form different oligomeric complexes with diverging properties. A crucial question is therefore to determine the actual subunit composition of naturally occurring glutamate receptors. We have coupled patch-clamp recordings and reverse transcription followed by PCR amplification to correlate the presence of mRNAs for each subunit and the functional properties of native glutamate receptors at the single-cell level. In a homogeneous population of functionally identified hippocampal neurons (type II) in culture bearing a glutamate receptor of the AMPA subtype with a high calcium permeability, we found that, among the multiple subunits, only two, the flop forms of GluR1 and GluR4, were expressed. In particular, GluR2 was never detected. This composition explains the uncommon properties of AMPA receptors in type II neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Molecular Probes / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA / drug effects
  • Receptors, AMPA / genetics
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*


  • Glutamates
  • Ion Channels
  • Molecular Probes
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase