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Ligand binding domain interface: A tipping point for pharmacological agents binding with GluN1/2A subunit containing NMDA receptors

Ligand binding domain interface: A tipping point for pharmacological agents binding with GluN1/2A subunit containing NMDA receptors

European Journal of Pharmacology 844: 216-224

N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors play a crucial role in normal brain function, pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Functional tetra-heteromeric NMDA receptor contains two obligatory GluN1 subunits and two identical or different non-GluN1 subunits that evolve from six different genes including four GluN2 (A-D) and two GluN3 (A-B) subunits. Since NMDA receptors confer varied physiological properties and spatiotemporal distributions in the brain, pharmacological agents that target NMDA receptors with specific GluN2 subunits have significant potential for therapeutic applications. In the present work, by using electrophysiology techniques, we have studied the role of ligand binding domain (LBD) interactions in determining the effect of well-characterized pharmacological agents including agonists, competitive antagonists, channel blockers and an allosteric modulator. Remarkably, point mutations at the distal end (site-II&III) of GluN1 LBD interface increased memantine potency up to sevenfold when co-expressed with wild type GluN2A receptors but exhibit no effect on Mg2+ activity. Conversely, mutations at the proximal end (site-I) of the LBD interface did not affect the memantine but altered Zn2+ and Mg2+ potency towards opposite directions. These results indicate that GluN1/2A LBD interface interactions play a key role in determining channel function. Further, subtle changes in LBD interaction can be readily translated to the downstream extracellular vestibule of channel pore to adopt a conformation that may affect memantine, Zn2+ and Mg2+ binding. Further studies on NMDA receptor LBD to transmembrane domain signal propagation mechanisms will help develop GluN2 subunit selective biomolecules that can be used for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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Accession: 066010475

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PMID: 30553788

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.12.023

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