Glycine accomplishes several functions as a transmitter in the central nervous system (CNS). As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it participates in the processing of motor and sensory information that permits movement, vision, and audition. This action of glycine is mediated by the strychnine-sensitive glycine receptor, whose activation produces inhibitory post-synaptic potentials. In some areas of the CNS, glycine seems to be co-released with GABA, the main inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter. In addition, glycine modulates excitatory neurotransmission by potentiating the action of glutamate at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. It is believed that the termination of the different synaptic actions of glycine is produced by rapid re-uptake through two sodium-and-chloride-coupled transporters, GLYT1 and GLYT2, located in the plasma membrane of glial cells or pre-synaptic terminals, respectively. Glycine transporters may become major targets for therapeutic of pathological alterations in synaptic function. This article reviews recent progress on the study of the molecular heterogeneity, localization, function, structure, regulation and pharmacology of the glycine transporter proteins.
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