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Role of charged residues in coupling ligand binding and channel activation in the extracellular domain of the glycine receptor


The glycine receptor is a member of the ligand-gated ion channel receptor superfamily that mediates fast synaptic transmission in the brainstem and spinal cord. Following ligand binding, the receptor undergoes a conformational change that is conveyed to the transmembrane regions of the receptor resulting in the opening of the channel pore. Using the acetylcholine-binding protein structure as a template, we modeled the extracellular domain of the glycine receptor alpha1-subunit and identified the location of charged residues within loops 2 and 7 (the conserved Cys-loop). These loops have been postulated to interact with the M2-M3 linker region between the transmembrane domains 2 and 3 as part of the receptor activation mechanism. Charged residues were substituted with cysteine, resulting in a shift in the concentration-response curves to the right in each case. Covalent modification with 2-(trimethylammonium) ethyl methanethiosulfonate was demonstrated only for K143C, which was more accessible in the open state than the closed state, and resulted in a shift in the EC50 toward wild-type values. Charge reversal mutations (E53K, D57K, and D148K) also impaired channel activation, as inferred from increases in EC50 values and the conversion of taurine from an agonist to an antagonist in E53K and D57K. Thus, each of the residues Glu-53, Asp-57, Lys-143, and Asp-148 are implicated in channel gating. However, the double reverse charge mutations E53K:K276E, D57K:K276E, and D148K:K276E did not restore glycine receptor function. These results indicate that loops 2 and 7 in the extracellular domain play an important role in the mechanism of activation of the glycine receptor although not by a direct electrostatic mechanism.

Type Journal
ISBN 0021-9258 (Print)
Authors Absalom, N. L.;Lewis, T. M.;Kaplan, W.;Pierce, K. D.;Schofield, P. R. :
Published Date 2003-01-01
Published Volume 278
Published Issue 50
Published Pages 50151-7
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version