Kainate receptors (KARs) are ligand-gated ion channels that can regulate neuronal network activity and are involved in processes ranging from neuronal development and differentiation to neurodegeneration and neuronal cell death. They are tetrameric assemblies which can comprise different subunit combinations and are differentially targeted to specific cell surface compartments including pre- and postsynaptic membranes where they perform distinct functional roles. The processes regulating the constitutive and activity-dependent trafficking of KARs are subtle and complex. Intricate combinations of protein–protein interactions and post-translational modifications orchestrate their surface membrane delivery, residence time, internalization, and recycling or degradation. Furthermore, in addition to regulating surface expression, interacting proteins connect receptors to anchoring and signaling pathways. Although our knowledge of the processes that regulate KAR trafficking is far from complete, there has been significant progress toward defining the roles of many of these protein partners and post-translational modifications. WIREs Membr Transp Signal 2012, 1:31–44. doi: 10.1002/wmts.23
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