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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A site of alcohol action in the fourth membrane-associated domain of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor.

The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptor is an important mediator of the behavioral effects of ethanol in the central nervous system. Although ethanol is known to inhibit NMDA receptors by influencing ion-channel gating, its molecular site of action and the mechanism underlying this effect have not been established. We have previously identified a conserved methionine residue in the fourth membrane-associated domain of the NMDA receptor NR2A subunit (Met823) that influences desensitization and gating of the ion channel. Here we report that this residue plays an important role in mediating the effect of ethanol on the NMDA receptor. Ethanol IC50 values among functional substitution mutants at this position varied over the range approximately 130-225 mm. There was a weak correlation between ethanol IC50 and mean open time of NR2A(Met823) mutants that was dependent on inclusion of the value for the tryptophan mutant. In the absence of this value, there was no trend toward a correlation among the remaining mutants. Desensitization appeared to influence the action of ethanol, because ethanol IC50 of the mutants was correlated with the steadystate to peak current ratio. With the exception of tryptophan, ethanol sensitivity was significantly related to the molecular volume and hydrophobicity of the substituent. The relation between ethanol sensitivity and the molecular volume and hydrophobicity at this position suggests that this residue interacts with or forms part of a site of ethanol action and that the presence of a tryptophan residue in this site disrupts its ability to interact with ethanol.[1]


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