A single beta subunit M2 domain residue controls the picrotoxin sensitivity of alphabeta heteromeric glycine receptor chloride channels

J Neurochem. 2001 Feb;76(4):1109-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2001.00124.x.


This study investigated the residues responsible for the reduced picrotoxin sensitivity of the alphabeta heteromeric glycine receptor relative to the alpha homomeric receptor. By analogy with structurally related receptors, the beta subunit M2 domain residues P278 and F282 were considered the most likely candidates for mediating this effect. These residues align with G254 and T258 of the alpha subunit. The T258A, T258C and T258F mutations dramatically reduced the picrotoxin sensitivity of the alpha homomeric receptor. Furthermore, the converse F282T mutation in the beta subunit increased the picrotoxin sensitivity of the alphabeta heteromeric receptor. The P278G mutation in the beta subunit did not affect the picrotoxin sensitivity of the alphabeta heteromer. Thus, a ring of five threonines at the M2 domain depth corresponding to alpha subunit T258 is specifically required for picrotoxin sensitivity. Mutations to alpha subunit T258 also profoundly influenced the apparent glycine affinity. A substituted cysteine accessibility analysis revealed that the T258C sidechain increases its pore exposure in the channel open state. This provides further evidence for an allosteric mechanism of picrotoxin inhibition, but renders it unlikely that picrotoxin (as an allosterically acting 'competitive' antagonist) binds to this residue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation / genetics
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Binding Sites / drug effects
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Binding, Competitive / drug effects
  • Binding, Competitive / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Chloride Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Chloride Channels / genetics
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Mesylates / pharmacology
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Picrotoxin / pharmacology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / drug effects
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, Glycine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Glycine / genetics
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sulfhydryl Reagents / pharmacology


  • Chloride Channels
  • GLRB protein, human
  • Mesylates
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Sulfhydryl Reagents
  • Picrotoxin
  • (2-sulfonatoethyl)methanethiosulfonate
  • (2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl)methanethiosulfonate
  • Glycine