Activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subclass of glutamate receptors is a critical step in the selection of appropriate synaptic connections in the developing visual systems of cat and frog. Activity-dependent development of mammalian motor neurons was shown to be similarly mediated by activation ofthe NMDA receptor. The expression of the Cat-301 proteoglycan on motor neurons was developmentally regulated and could be specifically inhibited by blockade of the NMDA receptor at the spinal segmental level. In the adult, Cat-301 immunoreactivity on motor neurons was not diminished by NMDA receptor blockade. The NMDA receptor may regulate the expression of a class of neuronal proteins (of which Cat-301 is one example) that underlie the morphological and physiological features of activity-dependent development.
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