PubMed 21746848

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: Kv2.1

Title: Local constraints in either the GluN1 or GluN2 subunit equally impair NMDA receptor pore opening.

Authors: Iehab Talukder, Lonnie P Wollmuth

Journal, date & volume: J. Gen. Physiol., 2011 Aug , 138, 179-94

PubMed link:

The defining functional feature of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors is activation gating, the energetic coupling of ligand binding into opening of the associated ion channel pore. NMDA receptors are obligate heterotetramers typically composed of glycine-binding GluN1 and glutamate-binding GluN2 subunits that gate in a concerted fashion, requiring all four ligands to bind for subsequent opening of the channel pore. In an individual subunit, the extracellular ligand-binding domain, composed of discontinuous polypeptide segments S1 and S2, and the transmembrane channel-forming domain, composed of M1-M4 segments, are connected by three linkers: S1-M1, M3-S2, and S2-M4. To study subunit-specific events during pore opening in NMDA receptors, we impaired activation gating via intrasubunit disulfide bonds connecting the M3-S2 and S2-M4 in either the GluN1 or GluN2A subunit, thereby interfering with the movement of the M3 segment, the major pore-lining and channel-gating element. NMDA receptors with gating impairments in either the GluN1 or GluN2A subunit were dramatically resistant to channel opening, but when they did open, they showed only a single-conductance level indistinguishable from wild type. Importantly, the late gating steps comprising pore opening to its main long-duration open state were equivalently affected regardless of which subunit was constrained. Thus, the NMDA receptor ion channel undergoes a pore-opening mechanism in which the intrasubunit conformational dynamics at the level of the ligand-binding/transmembrane domain (TMD) linkers are tightly coupled across the four subunits. Our results further indicate that conformational freedom of the linkers between the ligand-binding and TMDs is critical to the activation gating process.