A Domain Linking the AMPA Receptor Agonist Binding Site to the Ion Pore Controls Gating and Causes lurcher Properties when Mutated
Journal of Neuroscience
Ionotropic, AMPA-type glutamate receptors (GluRs) critically shape excitatory synaptic signals in the CNS. Ligand binding induces conformational changes in the glutamate-binding domain of the receptors that are converted into opening of the channel pore via three short linker sequences, a process referred to as gating. Although crystallization of the glutamate-binding domain and structural models of the ion pore advanced our understanding of ligand-binding dynamics and pore movements, the
... ovements, the allosteric coupling of both events by the short linkers has not been described in detail. To study the role of the linkers in gating GluR1, we transplanted them between different GluRs and examined the electrophysiological properties of the resulting chimeric receptors in Xenopus laevis oocytes and HEK293 cells. We found that all three linkers decisively affect receptor functionality, agonist potency, and desensitization. One linker chimera was nondesensitizing and exhibited strongly increased agonist potencies, while fluxing ions even in the absence of agonist, similar to properties reported for the GluR1 lurcher mutation. Combining this new lurcher-like linker chimera with the original lurcher mutation allowed us to reassess the effect of lurcher on GluR1 gating properties. The observed differential but interdependent influence of linker and lurcher mutations on receptor properties suggests that the linkers are part of a fine-tuned structural element that normally stabilizes the closed ion pore. We propose that lurcher-like mutations act by disrupting this element such that ligand-induced conformational changes are not necessarily required to gate the channel.