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Biochemistry. 2005 Nov 8;44(44):14470-6.

Binding of 5'-GMP to the GluR2 AMPA receptor: insight from targeted molecular dynamics simulations.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidad Autónoma, E-28049 Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain.


Guanine nucleotides behave as competitive antagonists at ionotropic glutamate receptors and show neuroprotective activity in different experimental excitotoxicity paradigms, both in vivo and in cultured cell preparations. Taking 5'-GMP as the reference nucleotide, we have tried to understand how these molecules interact with the agonist-binding site of the GluR2 alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptor. Using a crystallographic model of the ligand-binding core of the GluR2 receptor in complex with kainate, we have previously analyzed the structural changes associated to the binding of agonists to the receptor and suggested a mechanism for the coupling of agonist binding to channel gating. In the present investigation we used the structure of the apo form of the receptor to probe the primary interactions between GMP and GluR2 by means of an automated docking program. A targeted molecular dynamics (TMD) simulation procedure was subsequently used to force the closing of the protein and to study the rearrangement of the ligand and surrounding amino acids. The resulting structure provides a plausible model of the nucleotide-receptor complex. Indirect support for the validity of our approach was obtained when the same methodology was shown to yield structures of the kainate-GluR2 and 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (DNQX)-GluR2 complexes that were in very good agreement with the published crystallographic structures. Both the stacking interaction between the phenyl ring of Tyr73 and the purine ring of GMP and a salt bridge between the phosphate group of GMP and Arg108 in the S1 domain, together with several hydrogen bonds, are proposed to secure the anchoring of GMP to the agonist-binding site. Unlike conventional competitive antagonists, such as DNQX, occupancy of the site by GMP still allows receptor segments S1 and S2 to close tightly around GMP without interacting with the critical residue Glu209 that triggers channel opening. Thus, GMP appears to be rather a false agonist than a competitive antagonist. This fact and the nature of the energy barriers that stabilize GMP bound to the closed form of the receptor provide an explanation for the unusual behavior of some guanine nucleotides in ligand-displacement experiments.

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