Ligand-dependent opening of the multiple AMPA receptor conductance states: a concerted model

PLoS One. 2015 Jan 28;10(1):e0116616. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116616. eCollection 2015.


Modulation of the properties of AMPA receptors at the post-synaptic membrane is one of the main suggested mechanisms underlying fast synaptic transmission in the central nervous system of vertebrates. Electrophysiological recordings of single channels stimulated with agonists showed that both recombinant and native AMPA receptors visit multiple conductance states in an agonist concentration dependent manner. We propose an allosteric model of the multiple conductance states based on concerted conformational transitions of the four subunits, as an iris diaphragm. Our model predicts that the thermodynamic behaviour of the conductance states upon full and partial agonist stimulations can be described with increased affinity of receptors as they progress to higher conductance states. The model also predicts the existence of AMPA receptors in non-liganded conductive substates. However, the probability of spontaneous openings decreases with increasing conductances. Finally, we predict that the large conductance states are stabilized within the rise phase of a whole-cell EPSC in glutamatergic hippocampal neurons. Our model provides a mechanistic link between ligand concentration and conductance states that can explain thermodynamic and kinetic features of AMPA receptor gating.

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Animals
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands*
  • Mice
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Protein Binding
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Receptors, AMPA / agonists
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Membranes / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, AMPA