Identification of residues critical for Cu2+-mediated inhibition of glycine α1 receptors

Zhenglan Chen, Glenn H. Dillon, Renqi Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Endogenous divalent cations Cu2+ and Zn2+ suppress the activity of glycine receptors (glyRs). Whereas residues critical for the effects of Zn2+ on glyRs have been identified, little is known about the determinants of Cu2+-mediated inhibition. In the present studies, we have assessed the potential commonality of Zn2+ and Cu2+-mediated inhibition of glyRs. Cu2+ potently inhibited recombinant human glycine α1 receptors, with an IC50 of 4.1 ± 0.7 μM. Systematic mutation of extracellular histidine residues revealed that mutation H215A greatly reduced the inhibitory modulation by Cu2+. Substitution of H215 with C produced receptors with Cu2+ sensitivity similar to the wild type. Furthermore, modification of H215C with a thio-specific reagent, [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl] methanethiosulfonate bromide (MTSET), reduced Cu2+ sensitivity of H215C receptors. However, mutation of other extracellular histidine residues including H107 and H109, which are known inhibitory Zn2+coordination sites, failed to influence inhibition of glycine currents by Cu2+. Moreover, mutation to alanine of two threonine residues (T112, T133) critical for Zn2+ inhibition had no effect (T133A) or only partial inhibitory effects (T112A) on Cu2+-induced inhibition. The double mutation, T112A/H215A, caused greater effects on Cu2+-mediated inhibition than either mutation alone. In addition, the glycine currents recorded from T112A/H215A mutant receptors were significantly potentiated by low concentrations of Cu2+. Our results have identified critical determinants of Cu2+-mediated inhibition of glyRs. Moreover, we demonstrate for the first time a clear difference in residues responsible for Cu2+-mediated compared to Zn2+-mediated inhibition of glyRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-708
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Cu modulation
  • Glycine receptor
  • Histidine
  • Site-direct mutagenesis
  • Zinc


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