The biochemistry, ultrastructure, and subunit assembly mechanism of AMPA receptors.
ABSTRACT: The AMPA-type ionotropic glutamate receptors (AMPA-Rs) are tetrameric ligand-gated ion channels that play crucial roles in synaptic transmission and plasticity. Our knowledge about the ultrastructure and subunit assembly mechanisms of intact AMPA-Rs was very limited. However, the new studies using single particle EM and X-ray crystallography are revealing important insights. For example, the tetrameric crystal structure of the GluA2cryst construct provided the atomic view of the intact receptor. In addition, the single particle EM structures of the subunit assembly intermediates revealed the conformational requirement for the dimer-to-tetramer transition during the maturation of AMPA-Rs. These new data in the field provide new models and interpretations. In the brain, the native AMPA-R complexes contain auxiliary subunits that influence subunit assembly, gating, and trafficking of the AMPA-Rs. Understanding the mechanisms of the auxiliary subunits will become increasingly important to precisely describe the function of AMPA-Rs in the brain. The AMPA-R proteomics studies continuously reveal a previously unexpected degree of molecular heterogeneity of the complex. Because the AMPA-Rs are important drug targets for treating various neurological and psychiatric diseases, it is likely that these new native complexes will require detailed mechanistic analysis in the future. The current ultrastructural data on the receptors and the receptor-expressing stable cell lines that were developed during the course of these studies are useful resources for high throughput drug screening and further drug designing. Moreover, we are getting closer to understanding the precise mechanisms of AMPA-R-mediated synaptic plasticity.
Project description:Ionotropic glutamate receptors in vertebrates are composed of three major subtypes - AMPA, kainate, and NMDA receptors - and mediate the majority of fast excitatory neurotransmission at chemical synapses of the central nervous system. Among the three major families, native AMPA receptors function as complexes with a variety of auxiliary subunits, which in turn modulate receptor trafficking, gating, pharmacology, and permeation. Despite the long history of structure-mechanism studies using soluble receptor domains or intact yet isolated receptors, structures of AMPA receptor-auxiliary subunit complexes have not been available until recent breakthroughs in single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. Single particle cryo-EM studies have, in turn, provided new insights into the structure and organization of AMPA receptor - auxiliary protein complexes and into the molecular mechanisms of AMPA receptor activation and desensitization.
Project description:Subunit assembly governs regulation of AMPA receptor (AMPA-R) synaptic delivery and determines biophysical parameters of the ion channel. However, little is known about the molecular pathways of this process. Here, we present single-particle EM three-dimensional structures of dimeric biosynthetic intermediates of the GluA2 subunit of AMPA-Rs. Consistent with the structures of intact tetramers, the N-terminal domains of the biosynthetic intermediates form dimers. Transmembrane domains also dimerize despite the two ligand-binding domains (LBDs) being separated. A significant difference was detected between the dimeric structures of the wild type and the L504Y mutant, a point mutation that blocks receptor trafficking and desensitization. In contrast to the wild type, whose LBD is separated, the LBD of the L504Y mutant was detected as a single density. Our results provide direct structural evidence that separation of the LBD within the intact dimeric subunits is critical for efficient tetramerization in the endoplasmic reticulum and further trafficking of AMPA-Rs. The contribution of stargazin on the subunit assembly of AMPA-R was examined. Our data suggest that stargazin affects AMPA-R trafficking at a later stage of receptor maturation.
Project description:Glutamate-gated AMPA receptors mediate the fast component of excitatory signal transduction at chemical synapses throughout all regions of the mammalian brain. AMPA receptors are tetrameric assemblies composed of four subunits, GluA1-GluA4. Despite decades of study, the subunit composition, subunit arrangement, and molecular structure of native AMPA receptors remain unknown. Here we elucidate the structures of 10 distinct native AMPA receptor complexes by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). We find that receptor subunits are arranged nonstochastically, with the GluA2 subunit preferentially occupying the B and D positions of the tetramer and with triheteromeric assemblies comprising a major population of native AMPA receptors. Cryo-EM maps define the structure for S2-M4 linkers between the ligand-binding and transmembrane domains, suggesting how neurotransmitter binding is coupled to ion channel gating.
Project description:Fast excitatory neurotransmission is mediated by AMPA-subtype ionotropic glutamate receptors (AMPARs). AMPARs, localized at post-synaptic densities, are regulated by transmembrane auxiliary subunits that modulate AMPAR assembly, trafficking, gating, and pharmacology. Aberrancies in AMPAR-mediated signaling are associated with numerous neurological disorders. Here, we report cryo-EM structures of an AMPAR in complex with the auxiliary subunit GSG1L in the closed and desensitized states. GSG1L favors the AMPAR desensitized state, where channel closure is facilitated by profound structural rearrangements in the AMPAR extracellular domain, with ligand-binding domain dimers losing their local 2-fold rotational symmetry. Our structural and functional experiments suggest that AMPAR auxiliary subunits share a modular architecture and use a common transmembrane scaffold for distinct extracellular modules to differentially regulate AMPAR gating. By comparing the AMPAR-GSG1L complex structures, we map conformational changes accompanying AMPAR recovery from desensitization and reveal structural bases for regulation of synaptic transmission by auxiliary subunits.
Project description:Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate brain. AMPA-type glutamate receptors mediate fast excitatory transmission. AMPA receptors assemble with transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory protein (TARP) auxiliary subunits and function as native ion channels. However, the assembly and stoichiometry of AMPA receptor and TARP complexes remain unclear. Here, we developed a novel strategy to determine the assembly and stoichiometry of this protein complex and found that functional AMPA receptors indeed assembled as a tetramer in a dimer-of-dimers structure. Furthermore, we found that the AMPA receptor auxiliary subunit, TARP, had a variable stoichiometry (1-4 TARP units) on AMPA receptors and that 1 TARP unit was sufficient to modulate AMPA receptor activity. In neurons, TARP had fixed and minimum stoichiometry on AMPA receptors. This fundamental composition of the AMPA receptor/TARP complex is important for the elucidation of the molecular machinery that underlies synaptic transmission.
Project description:AMPA receptors-mediators of fast, excitatory transmission and synaptic plasticity in the brain-achieve great functional diversity through interaction with different auxiliary subunits, which alter both the trafficking and biophysical properties of these receptors. In the past several years an abundance of new AMPA receptor auxiliary subunits have been identified, adding astounding variety to the proteins known to directly bind and modulate AMPA receptors. SynDIG1 was recently identified as a novel AMPA receptor interacting protein that directly binds to the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 in heterologous cells. Functionally, SynDIG1 was found to regulate the strength and density of AMPA receptor containing synapses in hippocampal neurons, though the way in which SynDIG1 exerts these effects remains unknown. Here, we aimed to determine if SynDIG1 acts as a traditional auxiliary subunit, directly regulating the function and localization of AMPA receptors in the rat hippocampus. We find that, unlike any of the previously characterized AMPA receptor auxiliary subunits, SynDIG1 expression does not impact AMPA receptor gating, pharmacology, or surface trafficking. Rather, we show that SynDIG1 regulates the number of functional excitatory synapses, altering both AMPA and NMDA receptor mediated transmission. Our findings suggest that SynDIG1 is not a typical auxiliary subunit to AMPA receptors, but instead is a protein critical to excitatory synaptogenesis.
Project description:The precise knowledge of the subunit assembly process of NMDA receptors (NMDA-Rs) is essential to understand the receptor architecture and underlying mechanism of channel function. Because NMDA-Rs are obligatory heterotetramers requiring the GluN1 subunit, it is critical to investigate how GluN1 and GluN2 type subunits coassemble into tetramers. By combining approaches in cell biology, biochemistry, single particle electron microscopy, and x-ray crystallography, we report the mechanisms and phenotypes of mutant GluN1 subunits that are defective in receptor maturation. The T110A mutation in the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the GluN1 promotes heterodimerization between the NTDs of GluN1 and GluN2, whereas the Y109C mutation in the adjacent residue stabilizes the homodimer of the NTD of GluN1. The crystal structure of the NTD of GluN1 revealed the mechanism underlying the biochemical properties of these mutants. Effects of these mutations on the maturation of heteromeric NMDA-Rs were investigated using a receptor trafficking assay. Our results suggest that the NTDs of the GluN1 subunit initially form homodimers and the subsequent dimer dissociation is critical for forming heterotetrameric NMDA-Rs containing GluN2 subunits, defining a molecular determinant for receptor assembly. The domain arrangement of the dimeric NTD of GluN1 is unique among the ionotropic glutamate receptors and predicts that the structure and mechanism around the NTDs of NMDA-Rs are different from those of the homologous AMPA and kainate receptors.
Project description:Transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory proteins (TARPs) are AMPA receptor auxiliary subunits that influence diverse aspects of receptor function. However, the full complement of physiological roles for TARPs in vivo remains poorly understood. Here we find that double knock-out mice lacking TARPs gamma-2 and gamma-3 are profoundly ataxic and fail to thrive. We demonstrate that these TARPs are critical for the synaptic targeting and kinetics of AMPA receptors in cerebellar Golgi cells, but that either alone is sufficient to fully preserve function. By analyzing the few remaining synaptic AMPA receptors in the gamma-2, gamma-3 double knock-out mice, we unexpectedly find that these TARPs specify AMPA receptor subunit composition. This study establishes a new role for TARPs in regulating AMPA receptor assembly and suggests that TARPs are necessary for proper AMPA receptor localization and function in most, if not all, neurons of the CNS.
Project description:Ion conductivity and the gating characteristics of tetrameric glutamate receptor ion channels are determined by their subunit composition. Competitive homo- and hetero-dimerization of their amino-terminal domains (ATDs) is a key step controlling assembly. Here we measured systematically the thermodynamic stabilities of homodimers and heterodimers of kainate and AMPA receptors using fluorescence-detected sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation. Measured affinities span many orders of magnitude, and complexes show large differences in kinetic stabilities. The association of kainate receptor ATD dimers is generally weaker than the association of AMPA receptor ATD dimers, but both show a general pattern of increased heterodimer stability as compared to the homodimers of their constituents, matching well physiologically observed receptor combinations. The free energy maps of AMPA and kainate receptor ATD dimers provide a framework for the interpretation of observed receptor subtype combinations and possible assembly pathways.
Project description:AMPA receptor (AMPA-R) complexes consist of channel-forming subunits, GluA1-4, and auxiliary proteins, including TARPs, CNIHs, synDIG1, and CKAMP44, which can modulate AMPA-R function in specific ways. The combinatorial effects of four GluA subunits binding to various auxiliary subunits amplify the functional diversity of AMPA-Rs. The significance and magnitude of molecular diversity, however, remain elusive. To gain insight into the molecular complexity of AMPA and kainate receptors, we compared the proteins that copurify with each receptor type in the rat brain. This interactome study identified the majority of known interacting proteins and, more importantly, provides candidates for additional studies. We validate the claudin homolog GSG1L as a newly identified binding protein and unique modulator of AMPA-R gating, as determined by detailed molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, and biochemical experiments. GSG1L extends the functional variety of AMPA-R complexes, and further investigation of other candidates may reveal additional complexity of ionotropic glutamate receptor function.