The ontogeny of glutamate receptors in rat barrel field cortex

Mary E. Blue, Michael V. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The ontogeny of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA excitatory amino acid receptors in rat barrel field cortex were characterized using receptor autoradiography. NMDA receptors showed a different pattern of development than that of non-NMDA receptors recognizing quisqualate (QUIS sites). During the first 14 days, high densities of QUIS sites were localized in barrel centers forming a sensory map of the rat whisker pad. After that time, the density of QUIS sites in barrel centers decreased so that the pattern was no longer apparent by postnatal day 21. In contrast to QUIS sites, NMDA sites did not exhibit a somatotopic pattern until postnatal day 21, when the lower density of sites in barrel septa formed an outline of barrel centers. At all ages examined, the density of NMDA sites did not differ significantly between barrel centers and surrounding cortex. Of the non-NMDA receptors examined in the postnatal day 10 old rat, both metabotropic sites and the NNKQ sites, which are [3H]glutamate binding sites that are not displaceable by NMDA, kainate or QUIS, showed a pattern of higher densities in barrel centers than surrounding tissue, whereas AMPA sites exhibited a complementary pattern. [3H]Glutamate binding to metabotropic sites was not significantly displaced by QUIS, whereas both NNKQ sites and metabotropic sites were potently blocked by the metabotropic agonist trans-ACPD. These results suggest that the NNKQ sites are low affinity QUIS metabotropic receptors, which, due to their high density in the immature barrel field, are in a position to influence barrel formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-25
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 1995


  • Autoradiography
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Development
  • Metabotropic receptor
  • NMDA receptor
  • Non-NMDA receptor
  • QUIS receptor
  • Vibrissa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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