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AMPA glutamate receptor subunit 2 in normal and visually deprived macaque visual cortex



Glutamate and its various receptors are known to play an important role in excitatory synaptic transmission throughout the CNS, including the primary visual cortex. Among subunits of the AMPA receptors (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid), subunit 2 (GluR2) is of special significance because it controls their Ca2+ permeability. In the past, this subunit has been studied mostly in conjunction with other AMPA subunits. The present study sought to determine if GluR2 alone has a distinct laminar distribution in the normal macaque visual cortex, and if its pattern correlated with that of cytochrome oxidase (CO) under normal and monocularly deprived conditions. In the normal adult cortex, GluR2 immunoreactivity (ir) had a patchy distribution in layers II/III, in register with CO-rich puffs. GluR2-ir highlighted the upper border of layer II, the lower border of layer IV (previously termed IVCβdark) and, most prominently, layer VI. Labeled neurons were primarily of the pyramidal type present in the upper border and lower half of layer VI, layers II/III, and scattered in layers V and upper IVB. Labeled nonpyramidal cells were large in layer IVB and small in IVCβdark. Notably, the bulk of CO-rich layers IVC and IVA had very low levels of GluR2-ir. At fetal day 13, however, GluR2 labeling showed a honeycomb-like pattern in layer IVA not found in the adult. A fragment of GluR2 cDNA was generated from a human cDNA library, and in situ hybridization revealed an expression pattern similar to that of GluR2 proteins. After 1–4 weeks of monocular impulse blockade with tetrodotoxin (TTX), alternating rows of strong and weak GluR2-ir in layers VI and II/III appeared in register with CO-labeled dark and light ocular dominance columns in layer IVC and puffs in II/III, respectively. Our results indicate that various cortical layers are differentially influenced by glutamate. The bulk of the major geniculate-recipient layers IVC and IVA have low levels of GluR2, presumably favoring synaptic transmission via Ca2+-permeable glutamate receptors. GluR2 plays a more important role in supragranular and infragranular layers, where the initial geniculate signals are further modified and are transmitted to other cortical and subcortical centers. The maintenance of GluR2 in these output layers is governed by visual input and neuronal activity, as monocular impulse blockade induced a down-regulation of this subunit in deprived ocular dominance columns.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Margaret T.T. Wong-Riley, Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA. E-mail:


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AMPA glutamate receptor subunit 2 in normal and visually deprived macaque visual cortex



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