Molecular identification and expression of the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit in the leech

Kathryn B. Grey, Brenda L. Moss, Brian D. Burrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) is involved in a number of physiological and pathophysiological processes in vertebrates, but there have been few studies examining the role of invertebrate NMDA receptors. In the leech, pharmacological evidence suggests that NMDARs contribute to synaptic plasticity, but there has been no molecular identification of NMDA receptors. In this report, a partial cDNA encoding the leech NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor (HirNR1) is presented. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction from single neurons of the leech central nervous system confirms HirNR1 expression in the Retzius (R), Anterior Pagoda (AP), Pressure (P), and Touch (T) neurons. Immunoblotting with an anti-NR1 antibody yielded a ~110 kDa protein, similar to the expected weight of the NR1 subunit (~116 kDa). Finally, pairing pre- and postsynaptic activity elicited long-term potentiation in synapses between neurons expressing NR1 mRNA (P-to-AP synapse) and this potentiation was blocked by the NMDAR antagonist AP5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalInvertebrate Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Leech
  • Long-term potentiation
  • NMDA receptor
  • Single cell RT-PCR
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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