• Down's syndrome;
  • mouse trisomy 16;
  • NMDA receptor;
  • NR2A;
  • polyamine;
  • spermine

The trisomy 16 (Ts16) mouse is an animal model for human trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome). The gene encoding the NR2A subunit of the NMDA receptor has been localized to mouse chromosome 16. In the present study, western blot analysis revealed a 2.5-fold increase of NR2A expression in cultured Ts16 embryonic hippocampal neurons. However, this increase did not affect the properties of NMDA-evoked currents in response to various modulators. The sensitivity of NMDA receptors to transient applications of NMDA, spermine, and Zn2+ was investigated in murine Ts16 and control diploid cultured embryonic hippocampal neurons. Peak and steady-state currents evoked by NMDA were potentiated by spermine at concentrations < 1 mm, and inhibited by Zn2+ in a dose-dependent and voltage-independent manner. No marked difference was observed between Ts16 and control diploid neurons for any of these modulators with regard to IC50 and EC50 values or voltage dependency. Additionally, inhibition by the NR2B selective inhibitor, ifenprodil, was similar. These results demonstrate that NMDA-evoked currents are not altered in cultured embryonic Ts16 neurons and suggest that Ts16 neurons contain similar functional properties of NMDA receptors as diploid control neurons despite an increased level of NR2A expression.