Unraveling the modular design of glutamate-gated ion channels

Trends Neurosci. 1995 Apr;18(4):161-8. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(95)93895-5.


Glutamate receptors that function as ligand-gated ion channels are essential components of cell-cell communication in the nervous system. Despite a wealth of information concerning these receptors, details of their structure are just beginning to emerge. We propose that glutamate receptors comprise four modules: two modules that are related to bacterial periplasmic-binding proteins, one module that is related to the pore-forming region of K+ channels, and one regulatory module of unknown origin. A K(+)-channel-like domain inserted into a crucial region of a periplasmic-binding protein-like domain suggests a mechanism for transduction of binding energy to channel opening. This modular design also suggests an evolutionary link between a ligand-gated ion-channel family and voltage-gated ion channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • Ion Channels
  • Ligands
  • Glutamic Acid