Embryonically expressed GABA and glutamate drive electrical activity regulating neurotransmitter specification

Cory M. Root, Norma A. Velázquez-Ulloa, Gabriela C. Monsalve, Elena Minakova, Nicholas C. Spitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Neurotransmitter signaling in the mature nervous system is well understood, but the functions of transmitters in the immature nervous system are less clear. Although transmitters released during embryogenesis regulate neuronal proliferation and migration, little isknown about their role in regulating early neuronal differentiation. Here, we show that GABA and glutamate drive calcium-dependent embryonic electrical activity that regulates transmitter specification. The number of neurons expressing different transmitters changes when GABAor glutamate signaling is blocked chronically, either using morpholinos to knock down transmitter-synthetic enzymes or applying pharmacological receptor antagonists during a sensitive period of development. We find that calcium spikes are triggered by metabotropic GABA and glutamate receptors, which engage protein kinases A and C. The results reveal a novel role for embryonically expressed neurotransmitters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4777-4784
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 30 2008


  • Calcium spikes
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Metabotropic receptors
  • Sensitive period
  • Transmitter specification


Dive into the research topics of 'Embryonically expressed GABA and glutamate drive electrical activity regulating neurotransmitter specification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this