Functional identification of NR2 subunits contributing to NMDA receptors on substance P receptor-expressing dorsal horn neurons

Tong, Chi-Kun; Kaftan, Edward; MacDermott, Amy B.

NMDA receptors are important elements in pain signaling in the spinal cord dorsal horn. They are heterotetramers typically composed of two NR1 and two of four NR2 subunits: NR2A-2D. Mice lacking specific NR2 subunits show deficits in pain transmission yet subunit location in the spinal cord remains unclear. We have combined electrophysiological and pharmacological approaches to investigate the composition of functional NMDA receptors expressed by lamina I, substance P receptor-expressing (NK1R+) neurons, as well as NK1R- neurons. Under low Mg2+ conditions (100 μM), the conductance of NMDA receptors at -90 mV (g(-90 mV)) with NR2A or NR2B subunits (NR2A/B) is low compared to conductance measured at the membrane potential where the inward current is maximal or maximal inward current (MIC) (ratio of ~0.07 calculated from Kuner and Schoepfer, 1996). For NR2C or NR2D subunits (NR2C/D), the ratio is higher (ratio ~0.4). NK1R+ and NK1R- neurons express NMDA receptors that give ratios ~0.28 and 0.16, respectively, suggesting both types of subunits are present in both populations of neurons, with NK1R+ neurons expressing a higher percentage of NR2C/D type NMDA receptors. This was confirmed using EAB318, an NR2A/B preferring antagonist, and UBP141, a mildly selective NR2C/D antagonist to increase and decrease the g(-90 mV)/g(MIC) ratios in both subpopulations of neurons.


Also Published In

Molecular Pain

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Academic Units
Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
Published Here
September 9, 2014