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Glutamate-receptor genes in plants


In animal brains, ionotropic glutamate receptors (GluRs) function as glutamate-activated ion channels in rapid synaptic transmission. We have now discovered that genes encoding putative ionotropic GluRs exist in plants, and we present preliminary evidence for their involvement in light-signal transduction. It may be that signalling between cells by excitatory amino acids in animal brains evolved from a primitive signalling mechanism that existed before the divergence of plants and animals. Our findings also help to explain why neuroactive compounds made by plants work on receptors in human brains.

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Figure 1: Arabidopsis GLR cDNAs encode proteins with sequence identity to animal ionotropic glutamate receptors.
Figure 2: Effects of ionotropic GluR antagonist DNQX on Arabidopsis seedlings.


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Lam, HM., Chiu, J., Hsieh, MH. et al. Glutamate-receptor genes in plants. Nature 396, 125–126 (1998).

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