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J Neurosci. 2011 May 18;31(20):7511-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6688-10.2011.

Probing TARP modulation of AMPA receptor conductance with polyamine toxins.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


The properties of synaptic AMPA receptors (AMPARs) depend on their subunit composition and association with transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs). Although both GluA2 incorporation and TARP association have been shown to influence AMPAR channel conductance, the manner in which different TARPs modulate the mean channel conductance of GluA2-containing AMPARs is unknown. Using ultrafast agonist application and nonstationary fluctuation analysis, we found that TARP subtypes differentially increase the mean channel conductance, but not the peak open probability, of recombinant GluA2-containing AMPARs. TARP γ-8, in particular, enhances mean channel conductance to a greater degree than γ-2, γ-3, or γ-4. We then examined the action of a use-dependent antagonist of GluA2-containing AMPARs, philanthotoxin-74 (PhTx-74), on recombinant AMPARs and on GluA2-containing AMPARs in cerebellar granule neurons from stargazer mice transfected with TARPs. We found that the rate and extent of channel block varies with TARP subtype, in a manner that correlates linearly with mean channel conductance. Furthermore, block of GluA2-containing AMPARs by polyamine toxins varied depending on whether channels were activated by the full agonist glutamate or the partial agonist kainate, consistent with conductance state-dependent block. Block of GluA2-lacking AMPARs by PhTx-433 is also modulated by TARP association and is a function of agonist efficacy. Our data indicate that channel block by polyamine toxins is sensitive to the mean channel conductance of AMPARs, which varies with TARP subtype and agonist efficacy. Furthermore, our results illustrate the utility of polyamine toxins as sensitive probes of AMPAR channel conductance and suggest the possibility that TARPs may influence their channel properties by selectively stabilizing specific channel conformations, rather than altering the pore structure.

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