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Arrangement of subunits in functional NMDA receptors.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience (2011-08-05)
Catherine L Salussolia, Michael L Prodromou, Priya Borker, Lonnie P Wollmuth
ABSTRACT

Ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), including the NMDA receptor subtype, are ligand-gated ion channels critical to fast signaling in the CNS. NMDA receptors are obligate heterotetramers composed of two GluN1 and typically two GluN2 subunits. However, the arrangement of GluN subunits in functional receptors-whether like subunits are adjacent to (N1/N1/N2/N2) or diagonal to (N1/N2/N1/N2) one another-remains unclear. Recently, a crystal structure of a homomeric AMPA receptor revealed that the four identical subunits adopt two distinct and subunit-specific conformations termed A/C and B/D with subunits of like conformations (e.g., A/C) diagonal to one another. In the structure, the two conformers were notable at the level of the linkers (S1-M1, M3-S2, and S2-M4) that join the ligand-binding domain to the transmembrane ion channel with the M3-S2 linker positioned more proximal to the central axis of the channel pore in the A/C conformation and S2-M4 more proximal in the B/D conformation. Using immunoblots and functional assays, we show that introduced cysteines in the M3/M3-S2 linker of GluN1, but not GluN2, show dimer formation and oxidation-induced changes in current amplitudes predictive of the A/C conformation. Conversely, introduced cysteines in the S2-M4 linker of GluN2, but not GluN1, showed similar functional effects, suggesting that the GluN2 subunit adopts the B/D conformation. Thus, we show that NMDA receptors, like AMPA receptors, possess distinct subunit-specific conformations with GluN1 approximating the A/C and GluN2 the B/D conformation. GluN subunits are therefore positioned in a N1/N2/N1/N2 arrangement in functional NMDA receptors.

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Sigma-Aldrich
Anti-NMDAR1 Antibody, clone 54.1, clone 54.1, Chemicon®, from mouse