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J Biol Chem. 1999 Aug 13;274(33):23006-12.

Amino acid volume and hydropathy of a transmembrane site determine glycine and anesthetic sensitivity of glycine receptors.

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Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712-1095, USA.


Two specific amino acid residues in transmembrane segments (TM) 2 and 3 are critical for the enhancement of glycine receptor (GlyR) function by volatile anesthetics. To determine which physicochemical characteristics of these sites determine their roles in anesthetic actions, an extensive series of single amino acid mutations at amino acid residue 288 (Ala-288) in TM3 of the alpha1 GlyR subunit was tested for modulation by volatile anesthetics. The mutations changed the apparent affinities of receptors for glycine; replacements with larger volumes and less hydropathy exhibited higher affinities for glycine. Potentiation by anesthetics was reduced by specific mutations at Ala-288. The molecular volume of the substituents was negatively correlated with the extent of potentiation by isoflurane, enflurane, and 1-chloro-1,2,2-trifluorocyclobutane, whereas there was no correlation between anesthetic enhancement and polarity, hydropathy, or hydrophilicity of substituents. In contrast to anesthetics, no correlation was found between the effects of the nonanesthetics 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane or 2, 3-dichlorooctafluorobutane and any physicochemical property of the substituent. These results suggest that the molecular volume and hydropathy of the amino acid at position 288 in TM3 regulate glycine and anesthetic sensitivity of the GlyR and that this residue might represent one determinant of an anesthetic binding site.

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