Of the twenty amino acids in the mammalian body, only serine and aspartate occur in D-configuration as well as L-configuration in significant amount. D-serine is selectively concentrated in the brain, localized to protoplasmic astrocytes that ensheath synapses and distributed similarly to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptors. D-serine has been found to function as an endogenous ligand for the 'glycine' site of the NMDA receptor. Evidences for this include the greater potency of D-serine to activate this site than glycine, and D-amino acid oxidase, which degrades D- serine as well as other neutral D-amino acids, markedly attenuates NMDA neurotransmission. D-serine is also formed by serine racemase, a recently cloned enzyme that converts L-serine to D-serine. Thus, in many ways D-serine fulfills criteria for defining its functionality as a neurotransmitter and challenges the dogma relating to neurotransmission, for it is the 'unnatural' isomeric form of an amino acid derived from glia rather than neurons.
- Bergmann glia
- N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience