Functional chimeras of GLIC obtained by adding the intracellular domain of anion- and cation-conducting Cys-loop receptors

Nelli Mnatsakanyan, Sita Nirupama Nishtala, Akash Pandhare, Mariana C. Fiori, Raman Goyal, Jonathan E. Pauwels, Andrew F. Navetta, Afzal Ahrorov, Michaela Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs), also called Cys-loop receptors in eukaryotic superfamily members, play diverse roles in neurotransmission and serve as primary targets for many therapeutic drugs. Structural studies of full-length eukaryotic pLGICs have been challenging because of glycosylation, large size, pentameric assembly, and hydrophobicity. X-ray structures of prokaryotic pLGICs, including the Gloeobacter violaceus LGIC (GLIC) and the Erwinia chrysanthemi LGIC (ELIC), and truncated eukaryotic pLGICs have significantly improved and complemented the understanding of structural details previously obtained with acetylcholine-binding protein and Torpedo nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Prokaryotic pLGICs share their overall structural features with eukaryotic pLGICs for the ligand-binding extracellular and channel-lining transmembrane domains. The large intracellular domain (ICD) is present only in eukaryotic members and is characterized by a low level of sequence conservation and significant variability in length (50-250 amino acids), making the ICD a potential target for the modulation of specific pLGIC subunits. None of the structures includes a complete ICD. Here, we created chimeras by adding the ICD of cation-conducting (nAChR-α7) and anion-conducting (GABAρ1, Glyα1) eukaryotic homopentamer-forming pLGICs to GLIC. GLIC-ICD chimeras assemble into pentamers to form proton-gated channels, as does the parent GLIC. Additionally, the sensitivity of the chimeras toward modulation of functional maturation by chaperone protein RIC-3 is preserved as in those of the parent eukaryotic channels. For a previously described GLIC-5HT3A-ICD chimera, we now provide evidence of its successful large-scale expression and purification to homogeneity. Overall, the chimeras provide valuable tools for functional and structural studies of eukaryotic pLGIC ICDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2670-2682
Number of pages13
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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