GRIN3A (Glutamate receptor, ionotropic, N-methyl-D-aspartate 3A)

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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Likely Difference
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Glutamate receptor, ionotropic, N-methyl-D-aspartate 3A (GRIN3A) is a subunit of NMDA receptors, which are glutamate regulated ion-channels that regulate excitatory synaptic transmission. GRIN3A may be involved in the development of synaptic elements and genetic variation has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. GRIN3A has an amino acid change that lead to a loss of a myristoylation site. This change has been hypothesized to have affected human learning and memory.


Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Definite Appearance: 
6,000 thousand years ago
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Genetics Topic Attributes
Gene symbols follow the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee standard.
Gene Symbol Type of Human-Specific Changes
GRIN3A Amino Acid Change


  1. Genetic variation in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit NR3A but not NR3B influences susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease., Liu, Hsin-Ping, Lin Wei-Yong, Liu Shu-Hsiang, Wang Wen-Fu, Tsai Chon-Haw, Wu Bor-Tsang, Wang Chien-Kuo, and Tsai Fuu-Jen , Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord, Volume 28, Issue 6, p.521-7, (2009)
  2. The identification and functional implications of human-specific "fixed" amino acid substitutions in the glutamate receptor family., Goto, H., Watanabe K., Araragi N., Kageyama R., Tanaka K., Kuroki Y., Toyoda A., Hattori M., Sakaki Y., Fujiyama A., et al. , BMC Evol Biol, Volume 9, p.224, (2009)