NMDA receptor structures reveal subunit arrangement and pore architecture

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Abstract

N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are Hebbian-like coincidence detectors, requiring binding of glycine and glutamate in combination with the relief of voltage-dependent magnesium block to open an ion conductive pore across the membrane bilayer. Despite the importance of the NMDA receptor in the development and function of the brain, a molecular structure of an intact receptor has remained elusive. Here we present X-ray crystal structures of theXenopus laevisGluN1–GluN2B NMDA receptor with the allosteric inhibitor, Ro25-6981, partial agonists and the ion channel blocker, MK-801. Receptor subunits are arranged in a 1-2-1-2 fashion, demonstrating extensive interactions between the amino-terminal and ligand-binding domains. The transmembrane domains harbour a closed-blocked ion channel, a pyramidal central vestibule lined by residues implicated in binding ion channel blockers and magnesium, and a ∼twofold symmetric arrangement of ion channel pore loops. These structures provide new insights into the architecture, allosteric coupling and ion channel function of NMDA receptors.

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