Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (consisting of mGluR1 and mGluR5) are G-protein-coupled neurotransmitter receptors that are found in the perisynaptic region of the postsynaptic membrane. These receptors are not activated by single synaptic volleys but rather require bursts of activity. They are implicated in many forms of neural plasticity including hippocampal long-term potentiation and depressions, cerebellar long-term depression, associative learning, and cocaine addiction. When activated, group I mGluRs engage two G-protein-dependent signalling mechanisms: stimulation of phospholipase C and activation of an unidentified, mixed-cation excitatory postsynaptic conductance (EPSC), displaying slow activation, in the plasma membrane. Here we report that the mGluR1-evoked slow EPSC is mediated by the TRPC1 cation channel. TRPC1 is expressed in perisynaptic regions of the cerebellar parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapse and is physically associated with mGluR1. Manipulations that interfere with TRPC1 block the mGluR1-evoked slow EPSC in Purkinje cells; however, fast transmission mediated by AMPA-type glutamate receptors remains unaffected. Furthermore, co-expression of mGluR1 and TRPC1 in a heterologous system reconstituted a mGluR1-evoked conductance that closely resembles the slow EPSC in Purkinje cells.
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