The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Cysteine substitution of transmembrane domain amino acids alters the ethanol inhibition of GluN1/GluN2A N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors.

PMID 25635140


N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are inhibited by behaviorally relevant concentrations of ethanol, and residues within transmembrane (TM) domains of NMDARs, including TM3 GluN1 phenylalanine 639 (F639), regulate this sensitivity. In the present study, we used cysteine (C) mutagenesis to determine whether there are additional residues within nearby TM domains that regulate ethanol inhibition on NMDARs. GluN1(F639C)/GluN2A receptors were less inhibited by ethanol than wild-type receptors, and inhibition was restored to wild-type levels following treatment with ethanol-like methanethiosulfonate reagents. Molecular modeling identified six residues in the GluN1 TM1 domain (valine V566; serine S569) and the GluN2A TM4 domain (methionine, M817; V820, F821, and leucine, L824) that were in close vicinity to the TM3 F639 residue, and these were individually mutated to cysteine and tested for ethanol inhibition and receptor function. The F639C-induced decrease in ethanol inhibition was blunted by coexpression of GluN1 TM1 mutants V566C and S569C, and statistically significant interactions were observed for ethanol inhibition among V566C, F639C, and GluN2A TM4 mutants V820C and F821C and S569C, F639C, and GluN2A TM4 mutants F821C and L824C. Ethanol inhibition was also reduced when either GluN1 TM1 mutant V566C or S569C was combined with GluN2A V820C, suggesting a novel TM1:TM4 intrasubunit site of action for ethanol. Cysteines substituted at TM3 and TM4 sites previously suggested to interact with ethanol had less dramatic effects on ethanol inhibition. Overall, the results from these studies suggest that interactions among TM1, TM3, and TM4 amino acids in NMDARs are important determinants of ethanol action at these receptors.