Structure and gating of the glutamate receptor ion channel

Trends Neurosci. 2004 Jun;27(6):321-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.04.005.


Ionotropic glutamate receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate rapid information transfer at most excitatory synapses in the brain. Crystal structures are now available for the ligand-binding domain, but the structure of the ion channel itself remains unknown. The core of the ion channel shares structural features with an inverted K(+) channel. In detail, however, differences are emerging. Most notable in the glutamate receptor ion channel are distinct structural and functional properties of a major pore-lining domain, the requirement of an additional transmembrane segment (M4), and twofold rather than fourfold symmetry. Together with ligand-binding domain structures and kinetic experiments, these findings have started to define the basic principles of channel gating in glutamate receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / chemistry*
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology


  • Ion Channels
  • Potassium Channels
  • Receptors, Glutamate