Format of Original
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Journal of Biological Chemistry
Original Item ID
doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.338921; PubMed Central: PMCID 3431703
The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor is a major target of ethanol in the brain. Previous studies have identified positions in the third and fourth membrane-associated (M) domains of the NMDA receptor GluN1 and GluN2A subunits that influence alcohol sensitivity. The predicted structure of the NMDA receptor, based on that of the related GluA2 subunit, indicates a close apposition of the alcohol-sensitive positions in M3 and M4 between the two subunit types. We tested the hypothesis that these positions interact to regulate receptor kinetics and ethanol sensitivity by using dual substitution mutants. In single-substitution mutants, we found that a position in both subunits adjacent to one previously identified, GluN1(Gly-638) and GluN2A(Phe-636), can strongly regulate ethanol sensitivity. Significant interactions affecting ethanol inhibition and receptor deactivation were observed at four pairs of positions in GluN1/GluN2A: Gly-638/Met-823, Phe-639/Leu-824, Met-818/Phe-636, and Leu-819/Phe-637; the latter pair also interacted with respect to desensitization. Two interactions involved a position in M4 of both subunits, GluN1(Met-818) and GluN2A(Leu-824), that does not by itself alter ethanol sensitivity, whereas a previously identified ethanol-sensitive position, GluN2A(Ala-825), did not unequivocally interact with any other position tested. These results also indicate a shift by one position of the predicted alignment of the GluN1 M4 domain. These findings have allowed for the refinement of the NMDA receptor M domain structure, demonstrate that this region can influence apparent agonist affinity, and support the existence of four sites of alcohol action on the NMDA receptor, each consisting of five amino acids at the M3-M4 domain intersubunit interfaces.