The kainate receptors (KARs) are members of the ionotropic glutamate receptor family and assemble into tetramers from a pool of five subunit types (GluK1-5). Each subunit confers distinct functional properties to a receptor, but the compositional and stoichiometric diversity of KAR tetramers is not well understood. To address this, we first solve the structure of the GluK1 homomer, which enables a systematic assessment of structural compatibility among KAR subunits. Next, we analyze single-cell RNA sequencing data, which reveal extreme diversity in the combinations of two or more KAR subunits co-expressed within the same cell. We then investigate the composition of individual receptor complexes using single-molecule fluorescence techniques and find that di-heteromers assembled from GluK1, GluK2, or GluK3 can form with all possible stoichiometries, while GluK1/K5, GluK2/K5, and GluK3/K5 can form 3:1 or 2:2 complexes. Finally, using three-color single-molecule imaging, we discover that KARs can form tri- and tetra-heteromers.
Keywords: cryo-electron microscopy; iGluRs; kainate receptors; single-cell RNA sequencing; single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer; single-molecule pull-down.
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