An antibody feeding approach to study glutamate receptor trafficking in dissociated primary hippocampal cultures

Andrew M. Chiu, Levi Barse, Pavla Hubalkova, Antonio Sanz-Clemente*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cellular responses to external stimuli heavily rely on the set of receptors expressed at the cell surface at a given moment. Accordingly, the population of surface-expressed receptors is constantly adapting and subject to strict mechanisms of regulation. The paradigmatic example and one of the most studied trafficking events in biology is the regulated control of the synaptic expression of glutamate receptors (GluRs). GluRs mediate the vast majority of excitatory neurotransmission in the central nervous system and control physiological activity-dependent functional and structural changes at the synaptic and neuronal levels (e.g., synaptic plasticity). Modifications in the number, location, and subunit composition of surface expressed GluRs deeply affect neuronal function and, in fact, alterations in these factors are associated with different neuropathies. Presented here is a method to study GluR trafficking in dissociated hippocampal primary neurons. An "antibody-feeding" approach is used to differentially visualize GluR populations expressed at the surface and internal membranes. By labeling surface receptors on live cells and fixing them at different times to allow for receptors endocytosis and/or recycling, these trafficking processes can be evaluated and selectively studied. This is a versatile protocol that can be used in combination with pharmacological approaches or overexpression of altered receptors to gain valuable information about stimuli and molecular mechanisms affecting GluR trafficking. Similarly, it can be easily adapted to study other receptors or surface expressed proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59982
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number150
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Antibody feeding
  • Glutamate receptor
  • Issue 150
  • Neurons
  • Neuroscience
  • Receptor internalization
  • Receptor recycling
  • Surface expression
  • Transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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