Activation of NMDA receptor upon glutamate binding and postsynaptic events
Species Homo sapiens
NMDA receptors are a subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors that are specifically activated by a glutamate agonist N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Activation of NMDA receptor involves opening of the ion channel that allows the influx of Ca2+. NMDA receptors are central to activity dependent changes in synaptic strength and are predominantly involved in the synaptic plasticity that pertain to learning and memory. A unique feature of NMDA receptor unlike other glutamate receptors is the requirement of dual activation of the NMDA receptor, which require both voltage dependent and ligand dependent activation. At resting membrane potential the NMDA receptors are blocked by Mg2+. The voltage dependent Mg2+ block is relieved upon depolarization of the post-synpatic membrane . The ligand dependent activation of the NMDA receptor requires co-activation by two ligands, namely glutamate and glycine. NMDA receptors are coincidence detector, and are activated only if there is simultaneous activation of both pre and post-synaptic cell. Upon activation NMDA receptors allow the influx of Ca2+ that initiates various molecular signaling cascades that are involved in the process of learning and memory.
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