The human NMDA receptor GluN2AN615K variant influences channel blocker potency

Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2019 Jun 20;7(4):e00495. doi: 10.1002/prp2.495. eCollection 2019 Aug.


N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are glutamate receptors with key roles in synaptic plasticity, due in part to their Mg2+ mediated voltage-dependence. A large number of genetic variants affecting NMDA receptor subunits have been found in people with a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including GluN2AN615K (GRIN2AC1845A) in two unrelated individuals with severe epileptic encephalopathy. This missense variant substitutes a lysine in place of an asparagine known to be important for blockade by Mg2+ and other small molecule channel blockers. We therefore measured the impact of GluN2AN615K on a range of NMDA receptor channel blockers using two-electrode voltage clamp recordings made in Xenopus oocytes. We found that GluN2AN615K resulted in block by Mg2+ 1 mmol/L being greatly reduced (89% vs 8%), block by memantine 10 μmol/L (76% vs 27%) and amantadine 100 μmol/L (45% vs 17%) being substantially reduced, block by ketamine 10 μmol/L being modestly reduced (79% vs 73%) and block by dextromethorphan 10 μmol/L being enhanced (45% vs 55%). Coapplying Mg2+ with memantine or amantadine did not reduce the GluN2AN615K block seen with either small molecule. In addition, we measured single-channel conductance of GluN2AN615K-containing NMDA receptors in outside-out patches pulled from Xenopus oocytes, finding a 4-fold reduction in conductance (58 vs 15 pS). In conclusion, the GluN2AN615K variant is associated with substantial changes to important physiological and pharmacological properties of the NMDA receptor. Our findings are consistent with GluN2AN615K having a disease-causing role, and inform potential therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: NMDA; blocker; channel; epilepsy; human; magnesium; mutation; receptor; variant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amantadine / pharmacology
  • Amino Acid Substitution*
  • Animals
  • Dextromethorphan / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / pharmacology
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Memantine / pharmacology
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Oocytes / drug effects
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology*
  • Xenopus


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Ketamine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Amantadine
  • Magnesium
  • N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype 2A
  • Memantine