Molecular mechanism for ligand discrimination of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels

Neuron. 1995 Sep;15(3):619-25. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(95)90150-7.


Cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels of retinal photoreceptors and olfactory neurons are differentially activated by ligands that vary only in their purine ring structure. The nucleotide selectivity of the bovine rod cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (cGMP > cIMP >> cAMP) was significantly altered by neutralization of a single aspartic acid residue in the binding domain (cGMP > or = cAMP > cIMP). Substitution by a nonpolar residue at this position inverted agonist selectivity (cAMP >> cIMP > or = cGMP). These effects resulted from an alteration in the relative ability of the agonists to promote the allosteric conformational change associated with channel activation, not from a modification in their initial binding affinity. We propose a general mechanism for guanine nucleotide discrimination, in common with that observed in high affinity GTP-binding proteins, involving the formation of a pair of hydrogen bonds between the aspartic acid side chain and N1 and N2 of the guanine ring.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cattle
  • Cyclic AMP / chemistry
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic GMP / chemistry
  • Cyclic GMP / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic IMP / chemistry
  • Cyclic IMP / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrochemistry
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Ion Channels / chemistry
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Conformation
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry
  • Thermodynamics


  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Ion Channels
  • Cyclic IMP
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic GMP