NMDA Receptor Research in the Hansen Lab

NMDA-type glutamate receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate neurotransmission in the central nervous system (CNS). Most NMDA receptors in the CNS are composed of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits and this type of NMDA receptor has been intensely investigated for decades and is now well understood. By contrast, very little progress has been made in our understanding of NMDA receptors that contain GluN3 subunits and their roles in the CNS remain unresolved.

 Dr. Hansen has been awarded $1.8 million for a 5-year NIH R01 project to study the roles of GluN3 subunits in the CNS. Specifically, the goals of this project are to investigate neuronal signaling by GluN3-containing receptors and to develop pharmacological tools to study these neuronal GluN3-containing receptors. To achieve these goals, Dr. Hansen will work closely with the Biospectroscopy Core Research Facility in the Center for Biomolecular and Structural Dynamics to image neuronal processes and determine how GluN3 subunits regulate neuronal functions.

 While little is known about how GluN3-containing NMDA receptors signal in the CNS, these receptors have been implicated in the regulation of neuronal processes that affect learning and memory. Furthermore, dysregulation of GluN3 subunits has been linked to several CNS disorders. The NIH project awarded to Dr. Hansen will begin to mitigate barriers to the progress in our understanding of GluN3 subunits, an essential step needed to advance GluN3 subunits as therapeutic targets.