The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptors (NMDAR) plays a key role in the control of neuronal plasticity and cell survival by modifying the activity of different signaling pathways and numerous genes. However, it remains unclear how the activation of this one class of glutamate receptors can lead to different functional consequences, such as enhancement of neuronal survival or induction of neuronal death. Recent work further refines the hypothesis that synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDARs have distinct roles in neuronal survival and death by showing that these two subpopulations of NMDARs differentially modify whole-genome activity.
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