Identification of a site in glutamate receptor subunits that controls calcium permeability

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  30 Aug 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5023, pp. 1028-1031
DOI: 10.1126/science.1653450


The neurotransmitter glutamate mediates excitatory synaptic transmission throughout the brain. A family of genes encoding subunits of the non-N-methyl-D-aspartate (non-NMDA) type of glutamate receptor has been cloned. Some combinations of these subunits assemble into receptors with a substantial permeability to calcium, whereas others do not. To investigate the structural features that control ion permeation through these ligand-gated channels, mutant receptor subunits with single-amino acid changes were constructed. Mutation of a certain amino acid that results in a net charge change (from glutamine to arginine or vice versa) alters both the current-voltage relation and the calcium permeability of non-NMDA receptors. A site has thus been identified that regulates the permeation properties of these glutamate receptors.

Stay Connected to Science