The postsynaptic density at glutamatergic synapses

Trends Neurosci. 1997 Jun;20(6):264-8. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(96)01033-8.


The postsynaptic density (PSD) is a tiny, amorphous structure located beneath the postsynaptic membrane of synapses in the CNS. Until recently, the molecular composition and function of the PSD were mostly matters of speculation. With the advent of powerful new microchemical tools and molecular-genetic methods, three new classes of proteins have been identified in the PSD at glutamatergic synapses: the PSD-95 family, the NR2B subunit of the NMDA-type glutamate receptor, and densin-180. The PSD-95 family is involved in clustering of NMDA receptors. NR2B is phosphorylated by Ca2(+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II, a prominent constituent of the PSD. Densin-180 might represent a new class of synaptic adhesion molecule. Study of these molecules is beginning to reveal the functional significance of the PSD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / chemistry*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / analysis
  • Sialoglycoproteins / analysis


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • postsynaptic density proteins