Regulation of AMPAR expression by microRNAs

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AMPA receptors (AMPARs) are the major excitatory neurotransmitter receptor in the brain, and their expression at synapses is a critical determinant of synaptic transmission and therefore brain function. Synaptic plasticity involves increases or decreases in synaptic strength, caused by changes in the number or subunit-specific subtype of AMPARs expressed at synapses, and resulting in modifications of functional connectivity of neuronal circuits, a process which is thought to underpin learning and the formation or loss of memories. Furthermore, numerous neurological disorders involve dysregulation of excitatory synaptic transmission or aberrant recruitment of plasticity processes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) repress the translation of target genes by partial complementary base pairing with mRNAs, and are the core component of a mechanism widely used in a range of cell processes for regulating protein translation. MiRNA-dependent translational repression can occur locally in neuronal dendrites, close to synapses, and can also result in relatively rapid changes in protein expression. MiRNAs are therefore well-placed to regulate synaptic plasticity via the local control of AMPAR subunit synthesis, and can also result in synaptic dysfunction in the event of dysregulation in disease. Here, I will review the miRNAs that have been identified as playing a role in physiological or pathological changes in AMPAR subunit expression at synapses, focussing on miRNAs that target mRNAs encoding AMPAR subunits, and on miRNAs that target AMPAR accessory proteins involved in AMPAR trafficking and hence the regulation of AMPAR synaptic localisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108723
Number of pages8
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work in the author's lab is funded by BBSRC and Alzheimer's Research UK.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • miRNA
  • translation
  • RISC
  • gene silencing
  • glutamate receptor
  • synaptic plasticity
  • AMPA receptor


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