Dynamic regulation of synaptic efficacy is thought to play a crucial role in formation of neuronal connections and in experience-dependent modification of neural circuitry. The molecular and cellular mechanisms by which synaptic changes are triggered and expressed are the focus of intense interest. This articles reviews recent evidence that NMDA receptors undergo dynamically regulated targeting and trafficking, and that the physical transport of NMDA receptors in and out of the synaptic membrane contributes to several forms of long-lasting synaptic plasticity. The identification of targeting and internalization sequences in NMDA-receptor subunits has begun the unraveling of some mechanisms that underlie activity-dependent redistribution of NMDA receptors. Given that NMDA receptors are widely expressed throughout the CNS, regulation of NMDA-receptor trafficking provides a potentially important way to modulate efficacy of synaptic transmission.
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