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AMPA-type glutamate receptors mediate excitatory synaptic transmission in the nervous system. The receptor subunit composition and subcellular localization play an important role in regulating synaptic strength. GLR-1 and GLR-2 are the Caenorhabditis elegans subunits most closely related to the mammalian AMPA-type receptors. These subunits are expressed in overlapping sets of interneurons, and contain type-I PDZ binding motifs in their carboxy-terminal cytosolic tail sequences. We report that GLR-1 and GLR-2 may form a heteromeric complex, the localization of which depends on either GLR-1 or GLR-2 tail sequences. Subunit interactions alone can mediate synaptic localization as endogenous GLR-1, or GLR-2 subunits can rescue the localization defects of subunits lacking tail sequences. Moreover, GLR-2 cytosolic tail sequences are sufficient to confer synaptic localization on a heterologous reporter containing a single-transmembrane domain. The localization of this GLR-2 reporter requires both a PDZ-binding motif in the GLR-2 tail sequence, and sequences outside of this motif. The PDZ protein LIN-10 regulates the localization of the reporter through the sequences outside of the PDZ-binding motif. Our results suggest that multiple synaptic localization signals reside in the cytosolic tail sequence of the receptor subunits, and that channel assembly can rescue the synaptic localization defects of individual mutant subunits as long as there are also wild-type subunits in the receptor complex.


Howard Chia-Hao Chang, Christopher Rongo. Cytosolic tail sequences and subunit interactions are critical for synaptic localization of glutamate receptors. Journal of cell science. 2005 May 1;118(Pt 9):1945-56

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PMID: 15840655

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