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D-Serine as a putative glial neurotransmitter

  • ASIF K. MUSTAFA (a1), PAUL M. KIM (a2) and SOLOMON H. SNYDER (a1) (a2) (a3)

Abundant recent evidence favors a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator role for D-serine. D-serine is synthesized from L-serine by serine racemase in astrocytic glia that ensheath synapses, especially in regions of the brain that are enriched in NMDA-glutamate receptors. D-serine is more potent than glycine at activating the ‘glycine’ site of these receptors. Moreover, selective degradation of D-serine but not glycine by D-amino acid oxidase markedly reduces NMDA neurotransmission. D-serine appears to be released physiologically in response to activation by glutamate of AMPA-glutamate receptors on D-serine-containing glia. This causes glutamate-receptor-interacting protein, which binds serine racemase, to stimulate enzyme activity and D-serine release. Thus, glutamate triggers the release of D-serine so that the two amino acids can act together on postsynaptic NMDA receptors. D-serine also plays a role in neural development, being released from Bergmann glia to chemokinetically enhance the migration of granule cell cerebellar neurons from the external to the internal granular layer.

Corresponding author
Solomon H. Snyder, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. phone: +1 410 955 3024; fax: +1 410 955 3623. email:
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Neuron Glia Biology
  • ISSN: 1740-925X
  • EISSN: 1741-0533
  • URL: /core/journals/neuron-glia-biology
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