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Proteins. 2004 Aug 15;56(3):411-9.

Structural dynamics of an ionotropic glutamate receptor.

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Division of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) are postsynaptic ion channels involved in excitatory neurotransmission. iGluRs play important roles in development and in forms of synaptic plasticity that underlie higher order processes such as learning and memory. Neurobiological and biochemical studies have long characterized iGluRs in detail. However, the structural basis for the function of iGluRs has not yet been investigated, because there is insufficient information about their three-dimensional structures. In 1998, a crystal structure called S1S2 lobes was first solved for the extracellular bilobed ligand-binding domain of the GluR2 subunit. Since then, the crystal structures for the S1S2 lobes both in the apo and in various liganded states have been reported, and recent biophysical studies have further elucidated the dynamic aspects of the structure of the S1S2 lobes. In this review, the dynamic structures of the S1S2 lobes and their ligands are summarized, and the importance of their structural flexibility and fluctuation is discussed in light of the mechanisms of ligand recognition, activation, and desensitization of the receptor.

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