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Yun-Chieh Chang, Chih-Yang Chen, Chuan-Chin Chiao; Visual Experience–Independent Functional Expression of NMDA Receptors in the Developing Rabbit Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(5):2744-2754. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.09-4217.
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Activation of the NMDA glutamate receptors is critical for the initiation of synaptic plasticity. In the developing rat retina, NMDA receptor function has been associated with visual experience, though the light-dependent regulation of the subunit composition of the NMDA receptors is controversial. In the present study, the functional expression of NMDA receptors in the developing rabbit retina was characterized and the impact of light deprivation on how the subunit composition of NMDA receptors is regulated was examined.
Antibodies against NR1 and NR2A/B were used to examine neonatal expression patterns of the NMDA receptor subunits. Furthermore, the functional NMDA receptors were mapped using the agmatine (AGB) activation assay.
Although NR1 and NR2A/B subunit immunoreactivity was prominently detectable only immediately after birth, AGB activation assay showed that functional NMDA receptors could be identified as early as embryonic day 21. No significant difference was observed between normal- and dark-reared animals in terms of their NR1 and NR2A/B expression. In addition, a comparison of AGB permeation between normal- and dark-reared animals showed no difference in functional expression of NMDA receptors.
These results indicate that NMDA receptors participate in the synaptic maturation of retinal circuits during the early stages of development but that the functional NMDA receptors, including their subunit composition, in the developing rabbit retina are independent of the rabbit's visual experience.
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