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Biochemistry. 2012 Jul 3;51(26):5229-31. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Stoichiometry and subunit arrangement of α1β glycine receptors as determined by atomic force microscopy.

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Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.


The glycine receptor is an anion-permeable member of the Cys-loop ion channel receptor family. Synaptic glycine receptors predominantly comprise pentameric α1β subunit heteromers. To date, attempts to define the subunit stoichiometry and arrangement of these receptors have not yielded consistent results. Here we introduced FLAG and six-His epitopes into α1 and β subunits, respectively, and imaged single antibody-bound α1β receptors using atomic force microscopy. This permitted us to infer the number and relative locations of the respective subunits in functional pentamers. Our results indicate an invariant 2α1:3β stoichiometry with a β-α-β-α-β subunit arrangement.

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