Embryonic rat spinal cord neurons change expression of glycine receptor subtypes during development in vitro

Michelle D. Withers, Paul A. St. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The expression of functional glycine receptors (GlyRs) by embryonic rat spinal cord neurons during development in vitro was investigated using whole- cell patch-clamp recordings. Functional GlyRs were expressed by most neurons within 1 day in vitro, and by all neurons from 4 days onward. However, the extent to which responses to glycine were blocked by the antagonist strychnine differed significantly between the first few days and 8 days in culture. Responses to glycine by neurons during the first few days in culture exhibited significantly less blockade by strychnine than those in neurons after 1 week in culture. Responses to glycine at both ages reflected an increased conductance to chloride ions, ruling out involvement of N-methyl- D-aspartate type glutamate receptors, and were not due to cross activation of γ-aminobutyric acid receptors. Monoclonal antibody 4a, which recognizes multiple subtypes of rat GlyR α subunits, labeled most neurons as early as 1 day in vitro, confirming that neurons express some form of GlyR α subunits by the first day in culture. These results show that rat spinal cord neurons express GlyRs early in their differentiation in vitro, and they suggest that individual neurons express as functional, cell-surface GlyRs a strychnine- insensitive isoform of the GlyR, possibly the previously described α2* subunit. In addition, these results indicate that the expression of GlyR isoforms changes from predominantly a strychnine-insensitive isoform to other, strychnine-sensitive Isoform(s) GlyR during development in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-592
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 5 1997


  • cell culture
  • glycine receptor
  • monoclonal antibody
  • spinal cord neuron
  • whole-cell patch clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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