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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 145387, 12 pages
Review Article

GluN3A: An NMDA Receptor Subunit with Exquisite Properties and Functions

1Department of Neuroscience, University of Geneva, CMU, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland
2Cellular Neurobiology, Departamento de Neurociencias, Centro de Investigacion Médica Aplicada (CIMA), Universidad de Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain

Received 20 September 2013; Accepted 12 November 2013

Academic Editor: Irina Nikonenko

Copyright © 2013 Laura A. Kehoe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) are pivotal for synaptic plasticity and memory formation. Conventional NMDAR consist of heterotetrameric structures composed of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits. A third subunit, GluN3, can also assemble with NMDAR subunits giving a remarkable modification of their heteromeric structure, forming a “nonconventional” NMDAR. As a consequence, the stoichiometry and kinetic properties of the receptors are dramatically changed. Among the GluN3 family, the GluN3A subunit has been the focus of a large amount of studies during recent years. These studies reveal that GluN3A is transiently expressed during development and could play a role in the fine tuning of neuronal networks as well as associated diseases. Moreover, GluN3A distribution outside the postsynaptic densities, including perisynaptic astrocytes, places it at a strategic position to play an important role in the interactions between neurons and glial cells. This review highlights GluN3A properties and addresses its role in neurophysiology and associated pathologies.