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Non-ionotropic signaling by the NMDA receptor: controversy and opportunity.

  • Author(s): Gray, John A
  • Zito, Karen
  • Hell, Johannes W
  • et al.
Abstract

Provocative emerging evidence suggests that the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor can signal in the absence of ion flux through the receptor. This non-ionotropic signaling is thought to be due to agonist-induced conformational changes in the receptor, independently of channel opening. Non-ionotropic NMDA receptor signaling has been proposed to be sufficient to induce synaptic long-term depression (LTD), directly challenging the decades-old model that prolonged low-level calcium influx is required to induce LTD. Here, we briefly review these recent findings, focusing primarily on the potential role of non-ionotropic signaling in NMDA receptor-mediated LTD. Further reports concerning additional roles of non-ionotropic NMDA receptor signaling are also discussed. If validated, this new view of NMDA receptor-mediated signaling will usher in an exciting new era of exploring synapse function and dysfunction.

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