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Mechanisms of activation and desensitization of full-length glycine receptor in membranes

By Arvind Kumar, Sandip Basak, Shanlin Rao, Yvonne Gicheru, Megan L Mayer, Mark S. P. Sansom, Sudha Chakrapani

Posted 30 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/788695 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2019.11.1159)

Glycinergic synapses play a central role in motor control and pain processing in the central nervous system. Glycine receptors (GlyR) are key players in mediating fast inhibitory neurotransmission at these synapses. While previous high-resolution structural studies have provided insights into the molecular architecture of GlyR, several mechanistic questions pertaining to channel function are still unknown. Here, we present Cryo-EM structures of the full-length GlyR protein reconstituted into lipid nanodiscs that are captured in the unliganded (closed) and glycine-bound (open and desensitized) conformations. A comparison of the three states reveals global conformational changes underlying GlyR channel gating. The functional state assignments were validated by molecular dynamics simulations of the structures incorporated in a lipid bilayer. Observed permeation events are in agreement with the anion selectivity of the channel and the reported single-channel conductance of GlyR. These studies establish the structural basis for gating, selectivity, and single-channel conductance of GlyR in a physiological environment.

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