L-Glutamate is a major neurotransmitter at the excitatory synapses in the vertebrate brain. It is also the excitatory neurotransmitter at neuromuscular junctions in insects, however its functions in their brains remain to be established. We identified and characterized two different subtypes (AmGluRA and AmGluRB) of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) from an eusocial insect, honeybee. Both AmGluRA and AmGluRB form homodimers independently on disulfide bonds, and bind [3H]glutamate with KD values of 156.7 and 80.7 nM, respectively. AmGluRB is specifically expressed in the brain, while AmGluRA is expressed in the brain and other body parts, suggesting that AmGluRA is also present at the neuromuscular junctions. Both mGluRs are expressed in the mushroom bodies and the brain regions of honeybees, where motor neurons are clustered. Their expression in the brain apparently overlaps, suggesting that they may interact with each other to modulate the glutamatergic neurotransmission.
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