Excitatory synaptic transmission in the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) is mediated predominantly by glutamate receptors. AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate)-sensitive glutamate receptors are endowed with kinetic properties which allow them to transmit fast repetitive signals. At some synapses in the CNS, the rapid onset of desensitization of AMPA receptors limits the duration or amplitude of synaptic events. Combining different AMPA receptor subunits may generate receptors specialized for encoding signals in specific neural pathways. Additionally, synaptic strength may be controlled by protein kinases acting directly on AMPA receptors.
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