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REVIEW: Glutamate Receptor RNA Editing in Health and Disease

A. Barbon and S. Barlati*

Division of Biology and Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnologies and National Institute of Neuroscience, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy; fax: +(39-0303) 701-157; E-mail: barlati@med.unibs.it

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received February 2, 2011
RNA editing is a post-transcriptional process with an important role in gene modification. This editing process involves site-selective deamination of adenosine into inosine in the pre-mRNA, leading to the alteration of translation codons and splicing sites in nuclear transcripts, thereby enabling functionally distinct proteins to arise from a single gene. One important instance is the neuron editing of the ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs). GluRs play a key role in excitatory synaptic transmission and plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS); their channel properties are largely dictated by the subunit composition of the tetrameric receptors. AMPA/kainate channels are assembled from GluA1-4 AMPA or GluK1-5 kainate receptor subunits. In particular, three of the four AMPA and two of the five kainate receptor subunits are subject to RNA editing. The editing positions have been named on the basis of the amino acid substitutions, such as the Q/R site in AMPA GluA2; the Q/R site in GluK1 and GluK2; the R/G site in GluA2, GluA3, and GluA4; and the I/V and Y/C sites in GluK2. These amino acid changes lead to profound alterations of the channel properties. This paper reviews the most relevant data showing the importance of glutamate receptor RNA editing in finely tuning glutamatergic neurotransmission in the normal CNS and following alterations of the editing process in association with disease phenotypes. Overall, these data indicate that a highly regulated process of glutamate receptor editing is of key importance in the proper function of neuronal cells and in their ability to adapt and modulate synaptic function.
KEY WORDS: RNA editing, glutamate receptor, neurological disorders

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297911080037