The fidelity of synaptic function is dependent on the expression of the appropriate neurotransmitter receptor subtype, the targeting and trafficking of receptors to synapses as well as the regulation of the actual number of receptors at synapses. GABAA (γ-aminobutyric acid type A) receptors and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are both examples of ligand-gated, heteromeric neurotransmitter receptors whose cell-surface expression is dynamic and tightly regulated. NMDA receptors are localized at excitatory synapses. These synapses are highly structured but dynamic, with the interplay between NMDA receptors and NMDA receptor-associated scaffolding proteins regulating the expression of functional cell-surface synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors. Based on current information, inhibitory synapses seem to be less ordered, and a GABAA receptor equivalent of PSD-95 (postsynaptic density-95), the scaffolding molecule pivotal to the organization of NMDA receptor complexes at synapses, is yet to be validated. In the present paper, processes regulating the trafficking, assembly and molecular organization of both NMDA receptors and GABAA receptors will be discussed.

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