1. Conflicting evidence exists concerning the expression and properties of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors on cerebellar Purkinje cells during development. We used whole-cell and single-channel recording to examine NMDA receptors on acutely dissociated Purkinje cells from newborn rats (postnatal day 0-4). 2. NMDA channels were present on >80% of identified Purkinje cells and had pharmacological and single-channel properties that were indistinguishable from NMDA receptors on other neurons. In particular, responses were glycine-dependent and Mg2+ produced flickery open-channel block. 3. Our results demonstrate the transient expression of NMDA receptor/channels on Purkinje cells early in development. As NMDA receptors have been implicated in developmental plasticity in other regions of the CNS, a similar role is feasible during climbing fiber innervation of Purkinje cells.
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