Kainate receptors mediate a slow postsynaptic current in hippocampal CA3 neurons

Pablo E. Castillo, Robert C. Malenka, Roger A. Nicoll

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433 Scopus citations


Glutamate, the neurotransmitter at most excitatory synapses in the brain, activates a variety of receptor subtypes that can broadly be divided into ionotropic (ligand-gated ion channels) and metabotropic (G-protein- coupled) receptors. Ionotropic receptors mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission, and based on pharmacological and molecular biological studies are divided into NMDA and non-NMDA subtypes. The non-NMDA receptor group is further divided into AMPA and kainate subtypes. Virtually all fast excitatory postsynaptic currents studied so far in the central nervous system are mediated by the AMPA and NMDA subtypes of receptors. Surprisingly, despite extensive analysis of their structure, biophysical properties and anatomical distribution, a synaptic role for kainate receptors in the brain has not been found. Here we report that repetitive activation of the hippocampal mossy fibre pathway, which is associated with high-affinity kainate binding and many of the kainate receptor subtypes, generates a slow excitatory synaptic current with all of the properties expected of a kainate receptor. This activity-dependent synaptic current greatly augments the excitatory drive of CA3 pyramidal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-186
Number of pages5
Issue number6638
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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