Synaptic strengthening through activation of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors

Nature. 1996 Jun 27;381(6585):793-6. doi: 10.1038/381793a0.


Postsynaptic Ca2+ elevation during synaptic transmission is an important trigger for short- and long-term changes in synaptic strength in the vertebrate central nervous system. The AMPA (alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazoleproprionate) receptors, a subfamily of glutamate receptors, mediate much of the excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain and spinal cord. It has been shown that a subtype of the AMPA receptor is Ca2+-permeable and is present in the subpopulations of neurons. When synaptically localized, these receptors should mediate postsynaptic Ca2+ influx, providing a trigger for changes in synaptic strength. Here we show that Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors are synaptically localized on a subpopulation of dorsal horn neurons, and that they provide a synaptically gated route of Ca2+ entry, and that activation of these receptors strengthens synaptic transmission mediated by AMPA receptors. This pathway for postsynaptic Ca2+ influx may provide a new form of activity-dependent modulation of synaptic strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Spider Venoms / pharmacology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • JSTX spider toxin
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Spider Venoms
  • Calcium