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Sci. STKE, 13 May 2003
Vol. 2003, Issue 182, p. pe19
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.182.pe19]


Do We Need Zinc to Think?

Yang V. Li, Christopher J. Hough, and John M. Sarvey*

Departments of Pharmacology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.

Abstract: Chelatable Zn2+, which is found in the synaptic vesicles of certain glutamatergic neurons in several regions of the forebrain, is released during neuronal activity. Zn2+ exhibits numerous effects on ligand-gated and voltage-dependent ion channels, and released Zn2+ is therefore likely able to modulate synaptic transmission. The physiologically relevant actions of Zn2+, however, have remained unclear. Recent research exploiting improved Zn2+-sensitive optical probes has suggested some intriguing effects for synaptically released Zn2+, including heterosynaptic regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function, and a novel role as a trans-synaptic second messenger that may enter postsynaptic neurons to modulate various signal transduction pathways.

*Corresponding author. E-mail: jsarvey{at}

Citation: Y. V. Li, C. J. Hough, J. M. Sarvey, Do We Need Zinc to Think? Sci. STKE 2003, pe19 (2003).

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