Brömstrup T, Howard RJ, Trudell JR, Harris RA, Lindahl E
Structure 21 (8) 1307-1316 [2013-08-06; online 2013-07-25]
Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) are similar in structure but either inhibited or potentiated by alcohols and anesthetics. This dual modulation has previously not been understood, but the determination of X-ray structures of prokaryotic GLIC provides an ideal model system. Here, we show that a single-site mutation at the F14' site in the GLIC transmembrane domain turns desflurane and chloroform from inhibitors to potentiators, and that this is explained by competing allosteric sites. The F14'A mutation opens an intersubunit site lined by N239 (15'), I240 (16'), and Y263. Free energy calculations confirm this site is the preferred binding location for desflurane and chloroform in GLIC F14'A. In contrast, both anesthetics prefer an intrasubunit site in wild-type GLIC. Modulation is therefore the net effect of competitive binding between the intersubunit potentiating site and an intrasubunit inhibitory site. This provides direct evidence for a dual-site model of allosteric regulation of pLGICs.