CNQX and AMPA inhibit electrical synaptic transmission: A potential interaction between electrical and glutamatergic synapses

Qin Li, Brian D. Burrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Electrical synapses play an important role in signaling between neurons and the synaptic connections between many neurons possess both electrical and chemical components. Although modulation of electrical synapses is frequently observed, the cellular processes that mediate such changes have not been studied as thoroughly as plasticity in chemical synapses. In the leech (Hirudo sp), the competitive AMPA receptor antagonist CNQX inhibited transmission at the rectifying electrical synapse of a mixed glutamatergic/electrical synaptic connection. This CNQX-mediated inhibition of the electrical synapse was blocked by concanavalin A (Con A) and dynamin inhibitory peptide (DIP), both of which are known to inhibit endocytosis of neurotransmitter receptors. CNQX-mediated inhibition was also blocked by pep2-SVKI (SVKI), a synthetic peptide that prevents internalization of AMPA-type glutamate receptor. AMPA itself also inhibited electrical synaptic transmission and this AMPA-mediated inhibition was partially blocked by Con A, DIP and SVKI. Low frequency stimulation induced long-term depression (LTD) in both the electrical and glutamatergic components of these synapses and this LTD was blocked by SVKI. GYKI 52466, a selective non-competitive antagonist of AMPA receptors, did not affect the electrical EPSP, although it did block the glutamatergic component of these synapses. CNQX did not affect non-rectifying electrical synapses in two different pairs of neurons. These results suggest an interaction between AMPA-type glutamate receptors and the gap junction proteins that mediate electrical synaptic transmission. This putative interaction between glutamate receptors and gap junction proteins represents a novel mechanism for regulating the strength of synaptic transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Sep 4 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gap junction
  • Glutamate receptor
  • Innexin
  • Leech
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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