The number of the subunits in an α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)-preferring L-glutamate receptor in the synaptic junctions of porcine brain was investigated in this study. Upon incubation of the synaptic junctions with three cross-linking reagents, dimethyl adipimidate (DMA), dimethyl suberimidate (DMS) and N-succinimidyl-(4-azidophenyl)-1,3´-dithiopropionate (SADP), AMPA receptor subunits in higher-molecular-mass aggregates were detected by immunoblotting. These aggregates migrated as proteins of approx. 200, 300 and 400 kDa. The number and identity of the subunits in a solubilized AMPA receptor were also investigated here. Two samples, W1 and W2, enriched in AMPA receptors were prepared from synaptic junctions by a combination of detergent-solubilization, anion-exchange chromatography and wheatgerm agglutinin affinity chromatography. Hydrodynamic behaviour analyses revealed that the majority of the AMPA receptors in either one of these samples were asymmetrical detergent-surrounded particles with a protein mass around 350 kDa. SDS/PAGE analysis revealed that the majority of AMPA receptors in the W1 sample were comprised of dimers of 106 kDa subunits which were covalently linked by disulphide bonds. Cross-linking these receptors with SADP yielded a new band of approx. 400 kDa. The results obtained here, either from the studies of AMPA receptors embedding in synaptic junctions or from those of detergent-solubilized and partially purified receptors, suggest that AMPA receptors contain a basic core structure comprising of four 106 kDa subunits.

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