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Mol Pharmacol. 1996 Oct;50(4):701-8.

Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors by glycine: role of an aspartate residue in the M3-M4 loop of the NR1 subunit.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6084, USA.


Glutamate and glycine are coagonists that act at distinct sites to activate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. In the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor, mutation of D732 to glutamate (D732E), asparagine (D732N), alanine (D732A), or glycine (D732G) reduced the potency of glycine by > 4000-fold, but these mutations had no effect on sensitivity to glutamate. Mutations at NR1(D732) also changed sensitivity to the glycine-site agonists D-serine and D-alanine, reducing the potencies and, in some cases, the efficacies of these compounds. Thus, D-serine was a full agonist at the glycine site of receptors containing NR1(D732N) and NR1(D732A), a partial agonist at receptors containing NR1(D732G), and a competitive antagonist at receptors containing NR1(D732). Mutations at NR1(D732) had no effect or produced an increase in sensitivity to the glycine-site antagonists 6,7-dichloroquinoxaline-2,3-dione and 5,7-dichlorokynurenic acid. These mutations did not affect the reversal potential, voltage-dependent block by extracellular Mg2+, block by ifenprodil, or stimulation by spermine at NR1/NR2B receptors. NR2 subunits containing mutations at NR2A(D731) and NR2B(D732), which correspond to NR1(D732), did not produce functional receptors when coexpressed with NR1. Residue D732 in NR1 may be close to a glycine binding site on the NMDA receptor and may directly affect the properties of this site or be critical for coupling of glycine binding to channel activation.

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