The functional properties of AMPA receptors shape many of the essential features of excitatory synaptic signalling in the brain, including high-fidelity point-to-point transmission and long-term plasticity. Understanding the behaviour and regulation of single AMPAR channels is fundamental in unravelling how central synapses carry, process and store information. There is now an abundance of data on the importance of alternative splicing, RNA editing, and phosphorylation of AMPAR subunits in determining central synaptic diversity. Furthermore, auxiliary subunits have emerged as pivotal players that regulate AMPAR channel properties and add further diversity. Single-channel studies have helped reveal a fascinating picture of the unique behaviour of AMPAR channels – their concentration-dependent single-channel conductance, the basis of their multiple-conductance states, and the influence of auxiliary proteins in controlling many of their gating and conductance properties. Here we summarize basic hallmarks of AMPAR single-channels, in relation to function, diversity and plasticity. We also present data that reveal an unexpected feature of AMPAR sublevel behaviour.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.