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Glutamate is a neurotransmitter in nerve cells which binds to all glutamate receptors located on neuron membranes, and is an example of a transmembrane receptor. Glutamate is the most prominent neurotransmitter in the body, being present in over 50% of nervous tissue. The primary glutamate receptor is specifically sensitive to N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA), which causes direct action of the central pore of the receptor, an ion channel, to drive the neuron to depolarize. Depolarization will trigger the firing, or action potential of the neuron, therefore NMDA is excitatory.

Types of glutamate receptors

There are two basic types of neural receptor: ionotropic, and metabotropic.

There are many specific subtypes of glutamate receptors, and it is customary to refer to primary subtypes by a chemical which binds to it more selectively than glutamate. The research, though, is ongoing as subtypes are identified and chemical affinities measured. There are several compounds which are routinely used in glutamate receptor research and associated with receptor subtypes:

(see also: metabotropic glutamate receptor)




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