Glycine decreases desensitization of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes and is required for NMDA responses

Juan Lerma, R. Suzanne Zukin, Michael V. L. Bennett

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105 Scopus citations


In Xenopus oocytes injected with rat brain mRNA, as in neurons, glycine greatly potentiated responses of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type of excitatory amino acid receptor. Injected oocytes generated a partially desensitizing inward current in response to NMDA with 30 nM added glycine. As the added glycine concentration was increased from 30 nM to 1 μM, the NMDA response was increased and exhibited less desensitization. The relationship between the NMDA peak response and added glycine concentration indicated a single component response with apparent affinity of 0.29 μM and a Hill coefficient of 0.77. The desensitized response was also fit by the Hill relation with a lower affinity but similar coefficient. The time course of desensitization at 500 μM NMDA was exponential with a time constant (350 msec) that was independent of glycine concentration between 0.03 and 0.3 μM. At higher glycine concentration a slower component of decay (τ = 1.4 sec) was observed. This component was enhanced by increasing the extracellular Ca2+. NMDA without added glycine evoked a small transient response. However this response was suppressed completely by prewashing with the glycine antagonist 7-chlorokynurenic acid, suggesting that it may have been due to glycine contamination. The dose-response relation for low concentrations of glycine indicated that the measured level of glycine contamination accounted for these responses. These results indicate that glycine has at least two actions at the NMDA receptor: it enables channel opening by the agonist and decreases desensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2354-2358
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamate receptor
  • Neurotransmitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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