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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2005 Jun;313(3):1066-74. Epub 2005 Mar 2.

Identification of subunit- and antagonist-specific amino acid residues in the N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor glutamate-binding pocket.

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  • 1The Eppley Research Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, 68198, USA.


The resolved X-ray crystal structures of the glutamate-binding domain (S1/S2 domains) of the GluR2 and NR1 glutamate receptor subunits were used to model the homologous regions of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor's NR2 subunits. To test the predictive value of these models, all four stereoisomers of the antagonist 1-(phenanthren-2-carbonyl) piperazine-2,3-dicarboxylic acid (PPDA) were docked into the NR2B glutamate-binding site model. This analysis suggested an affinity order for the PPDA isomers of d-cis > L-cis > L-trans = D-trans and predicted that the 2-position carboxylate group of the cis-PPDA isomers, but not of the trans-PPDA isomers, may be interacting with histidine 486 in NR2B. Consistent with these predictions, cis-PPDA displays a 35-fold higher affinity for NR2B-containing NMDA receptors than trans-PPDA. In addition, mutating NR2B's H486 to phenylalanine decreased cis-PPDA affinity 8-fold but had no effect on trans-PPDA affinity. In contrast, the NR2B H486F mutation increased the affinity of the typical antagonists CGS-19755 [(2R*,4S*)-4-phosphonomethyl-2-piperidine carboxylic acid] and 4-(3-phosphonopropyl) piperidine-2-carboxylic acid. In the NR1-based NR2 models, there were only four subunit-specific amino acid residues exposed to the ligand-binding pocket (and six in the GluR2-based models). These residues are located at the edge of the binding pocket, suggesting that large antagonists may be necessary for subtype specificity. Of these residues, mutational analysis and modeling suggest that A414, R712, and G713 (NR2B numbering) may be especially useful for developing NR2C- and NR2D-selective NMDA receptor antagonists and that residues A414 and T428 may determine subunit variations in agonist affinity.

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