Ontogeny of non-NMDA glutamate receptors in rat barrel field cortex: II. α-AMPA and kainate receptors

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The ontogeny of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) and kainate (KA) glutamate receptors in rat barrel field cortex was characterized by using receptor autoradiography and immunocytochemistry. A somatotopic pattern of AMPA receptors with fewer [3H]AMPA sites in barrel centers than in surrounding cortex did not emerge until postnatal day 10 (P10). After reaching a peak density at P14, the density of [3H]AMPA receptors declined in both barrel centers and surrounding cortex. Compared with AMPA receptors, the density of [3H]KA sites at all ages was low, a somatotopic expression of [3H]KA sites was missing, and the developmental curve for [3H]KA sites was more shallow than that for [3H]AMPA binding sites. A differential ontogeny of AMPA and KA receptors in barrel field cortex was also demonstrated in immunocytochemical studies with antibodies to the AMPA receptor subunits GluR1 and GluR2,3 and the KA receptor subunits GluR6,7. GluR1 and GluR2,3 staining was more dense in barrel septa than in barrel centers; this pattern persisted into adulthood. GluR1 and GluR2,3 receptors were localized to cell bodies and dendrites as well as the neuropil, but different populations of cortical neurons expressed these receptors. At P10, KA receptor subunits GluR6,7 exhibited a contrasting pattern to that of AMPA receptor subunits, with slightly more neuropil staining in barrel centers than in surrounding cortex. After that point, the somatotopic pattern of GluR6,7 subunit expression was lost. The contrasting developmental patterns of expression of the AMPA and KA receptors in the barrel field suggest that they may play different roles in the whisker-to- barrel pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 15 1997


  • Autoradiography
  • Development
  • Excitatory amino acid
  • Pattern formation
  • Somatosensory cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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