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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

mGluR1, but not mGluR5, mediates depolarization of spinal cord neurons by blocking a leak current.

The modulation of neuronal excitability by group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) was studied in isolated lamprey spinal cord. At resting potential, application of the group I mGluR agonist (R,S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) slightly depolarized the cells. However, at depolarized membrane potentials, this agonist induced repetitive firing. When Na+ channels were blocked by TTX, DHPG induced a slight depolarization at rest that increased in amplitude as the neurons were held at more depolarized membrane potentials. In voltage-clamp conditions, DHPG application induced an inward current associated with a decrease in membrane conductance when cells were held at -40 mV. At resting membrane potential, no significant change in the current was induced by DHPG, although a decrease in membrane conductance was seen. The conductance blocked by DHPG corresponded to a leak current, since DHPG had no effect on the voltage-gated current elicited by a voltage step from -60 to -40 mV, when leak currents were subtracted. The leak current blocked by DHPG is mediated by fluxes of both K+ and Na+. The subtype of group I mGluR mediating the block of the leak current was characterized using specific antagonists for mGluR1 and mGluR5. The inhibition of the leak current was blocked by the mGluR1 antagonist LY 367385 but not by the mGluR5 antagonist 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine ( MPEP). The DHPG-induced blockage of the leak current required phospholipase C (PLC)-activation and release of Ca2+ from internal stores as the effect of DHPG was suppressed by the PLC-blocker U-73122 and after depletion of intracellular Ca2+ pools by thapsigargin. Our results thus show that mGluR1 activation depolarizes spinal neurons by inhibiting a leak current. This will boost membrane depolarization and result in an increase in the excitability of spinal cord neurons, which could contribute to the modulation of the activity of the spinal locomotor network.[1]


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