A nomenclature for ligand-gated ion channels

Neuropharmacology. 2009 Jan;56(1):2-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.06.063. Epub 2008 Jul 4.


The ligand-gated ion channels that participate in fast synaptic transmission comprise the nicotinic acetylcholine, 5-hydroxytryptamine3 (5-HT3), gamma-aminobutyric acidA (GABA(A)), glycine, ionotropic glutamate and P2X receptor families. A consistent and systematic nomenclature for the individual subunits that comprise these receptors and the receptors that result from their co-assembly is highly desirable. There is also a need to develop criteria that aid in deciding which of the vast number of heteromeric combinations of subunits that can be assembled in heterologous expression systems in vitro, are known, or likely, to exist as functional receptors in vivo. The aim of this short article is to summarize the progress being made by the nomenclature committee of IUPHAR (NC-IUPHAR) in formulating recommendations that attempt to address these issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Ion Channels / classification*
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Ion Channels