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Neuron. 2001 Jul 19;31(1):103-13.

Functional assembly of AMPA and kainate receptors is mediated by several discrete protein-protein interactions.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The Institute of Dental Sciences, The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, 91120, Jerusalem, Israel.


Functional heterogeneity of ionotropic glutamate receptors arises not only from the existence of many subunits and isoforms, but also from combinatorial assembly creating channels with distinct properties. This heteromerization is subtype restricted and thought to be determined exclusively by the proximal extracellular N-terminal domain of the subunits. However, using functional assays for heteromer formation, we show that, besides the N-terminal domain, the membrane sector and the C-terminal part of S2 are critical determinants for the formation of functional channels. Our results are compatible with a model where the N-terminal domain only mediates the initial subunit associations into dimers, whereas for the assembly of the full functional tetramer, compatibility of the other regions is required.

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