Glutamate transporters in glial plasma membranes: highly differentiated localizations revealed by quantitative ultrastructural immunocytochemistry

Neuron. 1995 Sep;15(3):711-20. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(95)90158-2.


The glutamate transporters GLT-1 and GLAST were studied by immunogold labeling on ultrathin sections of rat brain tissue embedded in acrylic resins at low temperature after freeze substitution. Both proteins were selective markers of astrocytic plasma membranes. GLT-1 was much higher in hippocampal astrocytes than in cerebellar astrocytes. Astroglial membrane GLAST densities ranked as follows: Bergmann > cerebellar granular layer approximately hippocampus > cerebellar white matter. No astrocyte appeared unlabeled. Astrocytic membranes facing capillaries, pia, or stem dendrites were lower in glutamate transporters than those facing nerve terminals, axons, and spines. Parallel fiber boutons (glutamatergic) synapsin on interneuron dendritic shafts were surrounded by lower transporter densities than those synapsing on Purkinje cell spines. Our findings suggest the localizations of glutamate transporters are carefully regulated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / analysis
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / chemistry
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cerebellum / ultrastructure
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry*
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Neuroglia / chemistry*
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Synapses / chemistry


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Glutamic Acid