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Sci. STKE, 21 March 2006
Vol. 2006, Issue 327, p. pe13
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.3272006pe13]


Multiple Routes for Glutamate Receptor Trafficking: Surface Diffusion and Membrane Traffic Cooperate to Bring Receptors to Synapses

Laurent Cognet1, Laurent Groc2, Brahim Lounis1, and Daniel Choquet2*

1Centre de Physique Moléculaire Optique et Hertzienne, CNRS (UMR 5798) and Université Bordeaux 1, 351 Cours de la Libération, 33405 Talence Cedex, France.
2Physiologie Cellulaire de la Synapse, CNRS (UMR 5091) and Université Bordeaux 2 Institut Francois Magendie, 33077 Bordeaux Cedex, France.

Abstract: Trafficking of glutamate receptors into and out of synapses is critically involved in the plasticity of excitatory synaptic transmission. Endocytosis and exocytosis of receptors have initially been thought to account alone for this trafficking. However, membrane proteins also traffic through surface lateral diffusion in the plasma membrane. We describe developments in electrophysiological and optical approaches that have allowed for the real-time measurement of glutamate receptor surface trafficking in live neurons. These include (i) specific imaging of surface receptors using a pH-sensitive fluorescent protein; (ii) design of a photoactivable drug to locally inactivate surface receptors and monitor electrophysiologically their recovery; and (iii) application of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to directly track the movement of individual surface receptors with nanometer resolution inside and outside synapses. Together, these approaches have demonstrated that glutamate receptors diffuse at high rates in the neuronal membrane and suggest a key role for surface diffusion in the regulation of receptor numbers at synapses.

*Corresponding author. E-mail, dchoquet{at}

Citation: L. Cognet, L. Groc, B. Lounis, D. Choquet, Multiple Routes for Glutamate Receptor Trafficking: Surface Diffusion and Membrane Traffic Cooperate to Bring Receptors to Synapses. Sci. STKE 2006, pe13 (2006).

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