Document Type




Format of Original

16 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

British Journal of Pharmacology

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1111/bph.13487; PubMed Central, PMCID: 27010645


Background and Purpose: The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is an important target of alcohol action in the brain. Recent studies in this laboratory have demonstrated that alcohol-sensitive positions in the intersubunit interfaces of the M3 and M4 domains of GluN1 and GluN2A subunits interact with respect to ethanol sensitivity and receptor kinetics, and that alcohol-sensitive positions in the M domains of GluN2A and GluN2B subunits differ. In this study we tested for interactions among alcohol-sensitive positions at the M domain intersubunit interfaces in GluN1/GluN2B NMDA receptors.

Experimental Approach: We used whole-cell patch-clamp recording in tsA201 cells expressing tryptophan substitution mutants at ethanol-sensitive positions in the GluN1 and GluN2B NMDA receptor subunits to test for interactions among positions.

Key Results: Six pairs of positions in GluN1/GluN2B significantly interacted to regulate ethanol inhibition: Gly638/Met824, Gly638/Leu825, Phe639/Leu825, Phe639/Gly826, Met818/Phe637 and Val820/Phe637. Tryptophan substitution at Met824 or Leu825 in GluN2B did not alter ethanol sensitivity but interacted with positions in the GluN1 M3 domain to regulate ethanol action, whereas tryptophan substitution at Gly638, which is the cognate of an ethanol-sensitive position in GluN2A, did not alter ethanol sensitivity or interact with positions in GluN1. Two and three pairs of positions interacted to regulate glutamate steady-state and peak current EC50, respectively, and one pair interacted with respect to macroscopic desensitization.

Conclusions: Despite highly-conserved M domain sequences and similar ethanol sensitivity in the GluN2A and GluN2B subunits, the manner in which these subunits interact with the GluN1 subunit to regulate ethanol sensitivity and receptor kinetics differs.


Accepted version. British Journal of Pharmacology, Vol. 173, No. 12 (June 2016): 1950-1965. DOI. © Wiley 2016. Used with permission.

Available for download on Thursday, June 01, 2017

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