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Proteins. 2001 Sep 1;44(4):460-9.

Molecular dynamics simulations of the conformational changes of the glutamate receptor ligand-binding core in the presence of glutamate and kainate.

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Centro de Biología Molecular (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma, Canto Blanco, Madrid, Spain.


Excitatory synaptic transmission is mediated by ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) through the induced transient opening of transmembrane ion channels. The three-dimensional structure of the extracellular ligand-binding core of iGluRs shares the overall features of bacterial periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs). In both families of proteins, the ligand-binding site is arranged in two domains separated by a cleft and connected by two peptide stretches. PBPs undergo a typical hinge motion of the two domains associated with ligand binding that leads to a conformational change from an open to a closed form. The common architecture suggests a similar closing mechanism in the ligand-binding core of iGluRs induced by the binding of specific agonists. Starting from the experimentally determined kainate-bound closed form of the S1S2 GluR2 construct, we have studied by means of molecular dynamics simulations the opening motion of the ligand-binding core in the presence and in the absence of both glutamate and kainate. Our results suggest that the opening/closing interdomain hinge motions are coupled to conformational changes in the insertion region of the transmembrane segments. These changes are triggered by the interaction of the agonists with the essential Glu 209 residue. A plausible mechanism for the coupling of agonist binding to channel gating is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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