ABSTRACT: AMPA receptor-mediated responses to the agonist kainate differ from those of glutamate in two important respects. Glutamate is a full agonist that elicits strongly desensitizing responses, whereas kainate is a partial agonist with responses that are often described as weakly desensitizing or non-desensitizing. The efficacy of kainate relative to glutamate has previously been shown to be increased by mutations in the AMPA receptor ligand-binding cleft (Mano et al., 1996) and by coexpression with the auxiliary subunit stargazin (Tomita et al., 2005; Turetsky et al., 2005), but much less is known about factors that affect kainate desensitization. We therefore designed experiments to compare kainate and glutamate desensitization and efficacy in wild-type and mutant AMPA receptors expressed with and without stargazin in HEK293 cells. Desensitization to the two agonists was differentially affected by mutations in the helices participating in bonds between two subunits in the active state of the receptor (Sun et al., 2002), indicating that the protein interactions maintaining the stability of the dimer interface differ depending on which agonist is bound. Kainate efficacy was affected by factors distinct from ligand-binding cleft closure, including mutations in the dimer interface and channel vestibule as well as receptor composition. The increase in kainate responses for AMPA receptors coexpressed with stargazin was the result of both reduced kainate desensitization and increased kainate efficacy. These results provide critical new insights into the agonist dependence of both AMPA receptor activation and desensitization and the mechanism of the effects of stargazin on responses of partial agonists.
Journal of Neuroscience 06/2011; 31(25):9359-67. · 7.11 Impact Factor