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Inverse Effects on Gating and Modulation Caused by a Mutation in the M2-M3 Linker of the GABAA Receptor γ Subunit

Molecular Pharmacology , Volume 76 (3): 641 – Sep 1, 2009


American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Copyright © Molecular Pharmacology
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Inverse Effects on Gating and Modulation Caused by a Mutation in the M2-M3 Linker of the GABAA Receptor γ Subunit


Abstract M2-M3 linkers are receptor subunit domains known to be critical for the normal function of cysteine-loop ligand-gated ion channels. Previous studies of α and β subunits of type “A” GABA receptors suggest that these linkers couple extracellular elements involved in GABA binding to the transmembrane segments that control the opening of the ion channel. To study the importance of the γ subunit M2-M3 linker, we examined the macroscopic and single-channel effects of an engineered γ2(L287A) mutation on GABA activation and propofol modulation. In the macroscopic analysis, we found that the γ2(L287A) mutation decreased GABA potency but increased the ability of propofol to enhance both GABA potency and efficacy compared with wild-type receptors. Indeed, although propofol had significant effects on GABA potency in wild-type receptors, we found that propofol produced no corresponding increase in GABA efficacy. At the single-channel level, mutant receptors showed a loss in the longest of three open-time components compared with wild-type receptors under GABA activation. Furthermore, propofol reduced the duration of one closed-time component, increased the duration of two open-time components, and generated a third open component with a longer lifetime in mutant compared with wild-type receptors. Taken together, we conclude that although the γ subunit is not required for the binding of GABA or propofol, the M2-M3 linker of this subunit plays a critical role in channel gating by GABA and allosteric modulation by propofol. Our results also suggest that in wild-type receptors, propofol exerts its enhancing effects by mechanisms extrinsic to channel gating.
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