The relationship between agonist potency and AMPA receptor kinetics

Biophys J. 2006 Aug 15;91(4):1336-46. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.106.084426. Epub 2006 May 26.


AMPA-type glutamate receptors are tetrameric ion channels that mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the mammalian brain. When agonists occupy the binding domain of individual receptor subunits, this domain closes, triggering rearrangements that couple agonist binding to channel opening. Here we compare the kinetic behavior of GluR2 channels activated by four different ligands, glutamate, AMPA, quisqualate, and 2-Me-Tet-AMPA, full agonists that vary in potency by up to two orders of magnitude. After reduction of desensitization with cyclothiazide, deactivation decays were strongly agonist dependent. The time constants of decay increased with potency, and slow components in the multiexponential decays became more prominent. The desensitization decays of agonist-activated currents also contained multiple exponential components, but they were similar for the four agonists. The time course of recovery from desensitization produced by each agonist was described by two sigmoid components, and the speed of recovery varied substantially. Recovery was fastest for glutamate and slowest for 2-Me-Tet-AMPA, and the amplitude of the slow component of recovery increased with agonist potency. The multiple kinetic components appear to arise from closed-state transitions that precede channel gating. Stargazin increases the slow kinetic components, and they likely contribute to the biexponential decay of excitatory postsynaptic currents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glutamic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Quisqualic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Receptors, AMPA / agonists*
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid / administration & dosage*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Glutamic Acid
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid
  • Quisqualic Acid