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J Neurochem. 1995 Apr;64(4):1462-8.

Pharmacological characterization of heterodimeric NMDA receptors composed of NR 1a and 2B subunits: differences with receptors formed from NR 1a and 2A.

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Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104.


Pharmacological and molecular biological evidence indicates the existence of multiple types of NMDA receptors within the CNS. We have characterized pharmacological properties of receptors assembled from the combination of NR 1a and NR 2B subunits (NR 1a/2B) expressed in transfected cells using both 125I-MK-801 binding assays and electrophysiological measures. Binding of 125I-MK-801 to cells transfected with NR 1a/2B is saturable with a KD of 440 pM. The binding is potently inhibited by ketamine, dextromethorphan, phencyclidine, and MK-801 and is stimulated by low concentrations of magnesium. These properties resemble those of native receptors and receptors produced by NR 1a/2A. However, 125I-MK-801 binding to membranes from cells transfected with NR 1a/2B is inhibited with high affinity by ifenprodil and is stimulated by spermidine, unlike receptors assembled from NR 1a/2A. NMDA-induced currents measured in cells transfected with either NR 1a/2A or NR 1a/2B have pharmacological properties that correlate well with the binding studies. Currents in cells transfected with NR 1a/2B are potentiated by spermidine and blocked with high affinity by ifenprodil, whereas currents in cells transfected with NR 1a/2A are not enhanced by spermidine and are weakly inhibited by ifenprodil. These data suggest that pharmacological heterogeneity in native NMDA receptors may be explained by combinations of different subunits.

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