Glutamine synthetase enhances the clearance of extracellular glutamate by the neural retina

Iftach Shaked, Iris Ben-Dror, Lily Vardimon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Clearance of synaptic glutamate by glial cells is required for the normal function of excitatory synapses and for prevention of neurotoxicity. Although the regulatory role of glial glutamate transporters in glutamate clearance is well established, little is known about the influence of glial glutamate metabolism on this process. This study examines whether glutamine synthetase (GS), a glial-specific enzyme that amidates glutamate to glutamine, affects the uptake of glutamate. Retinal explants were incubated in the presence of [14C]glutamate and glutamate uptake was assessed by measurement of the amount of radioactively labeled molecules within the cells and the amount of [14C]glutamine released to the medium. An increase in GS expression in Müller glial cells, caused by induction of the endogenous gene, did not affect the amount of glutamate accumulated within the cells, but led to a dramatic increase in the amount of glutamine released. This increase, which was directly correlated with the level of GS expression, was dependent on the presence of external sodium ions, and could be completely abolished by methionine sulfoximine, a specific inhibitor of GS activity. Our results demonstrate that GS activity significantly influences the uptake of glutamate by the neural retina and suggest that this enzyme may represent an important target for neuroprotective strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-580
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Glutamate uptake
  • Glutamine synthetase
  • Müller glia
  • Neural retina
  • Neurotoxicity


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