Synaptic receptors of the nicotinic receptor gene family are pentamers of subunits. This modular structure creates problems in studies of drug actions, related to the number of copies of a subunit that are present and their position. A separate issue concerns the mechanism of action of many anesthetics, which involves potentiation of responses to neurotransmitters. Potentiation requires an interaction between a transmitter and a potentiator, mediated through the target receptor. We have studied the mechanism by which neurosteroids potentiate transmitter responses, using concatemers of covalently linked subunits to control the number and position of subunits in the assembled receptor and to selectively introduce mutations into positionally defined copies of a subunit. We found that the steroid needs to interact with only one site to produce potentiation, that the native sites for steroid interaction have indistinguishable properties, and that steroid potentiation appears to result from a global effect on receptor function.
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Dec 2011|