All ionotropic glutamate receptors share the same domain structure with two extracellular domains; the amino terminal domain (ATD) and ligand binding domain (LBD), a transmembrane domain (TM) and a cytoplasmic carboxy terminal domain (CTD). The synaptic trafficking of glutamate receptors is of fundamental importance for synapse development and plasticity. Virtually all the work on this topic has focused on the CTD of the various subclasses of glutamate receptor. These studies, while contributing importantly to our understanding, left many unanswered question. On the other hand virtually nothing is known about the role of the ATDs of these receptors, which account for approximately 50% of the protein. Our recent results have established a critical role of the ATD for the subunit specific synaptic trafficking, not only for AMPA receptors, but also for kainate receptors and for the Delta1 glutamate receptor. The overall goals of this project is to 1) determine the functional similarities and differences of the ATDs of subunits within a class of glutamate receptor as well as between different classes of receptor and 2) identify synaptic cleft proteins that specifically interact with the extracellular domains of the various glutamate receptors. To accomplish these objectives the first approach will be to carry out a series of deletions of the ATD to determine what regions are necessary for their function. Based on the regions we identify, we will carry out a series of domain swapping experiments to determine if the regions we identify are sufficient for their function. The second approach will focus on identifying synaptic cleft proteins that interact with the extracellular domains of the glutamate receptors. This will rely on both a candidate approach and an unbiased proteomic approach. Specifically, we will 1) determine the role of the ATD in subtype- and subunit-specific ionotropic glutamate receptors in constitutive and plasticity-dependent synaptic targeting; 2) determine the role of GluD1 in excitatory synaptic transmission 3) characterize MDGA Proteins as novel ATD binding proteins These results will provide basic information about the rules and proteins involved in the extracellular control of basal and activity-dependent synaptic glutamate receptor trafficking.

Public Health Relevance

We have recently found that the extracellular amino terminal domain (ATD) of glutamate receptors, which accounts for 50% of the receptor polypeptide, but has receive little attention, play an essential role in synaptic trafficking. This application proposes to elucidate the underlying mechanisms involved in the ATD control of subunit specific trafficking.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synapses, Cytoskeleton and Trafficking Study Section (SYN)
Program Officer
Driscoll, Jamie
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
Zip Code