Review Article | Published:

Recent advances in Cys-loop receptor structure and function

Nature volume 440, pages 448455 (23 March 2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Throughout the nervous system, moment-to-moment communication relies on postsynaptic receptors to detect neurotransmitters and change the membrane potential. For the Cys-loop superfamily of receptors, recent structural data have catalysed a leap in our understanding of the three steps of chemical-to-electrical transduction: neurotransmitter binding, communication between the binding site and the barrier to ions, and opening and closing of the barrier. The emerging insights might be expected to explain how mutations of receptors cause neurological disease, but the opposite is generally true. Namely, analyses of disease-causing mutations have clarified receptor structure–function relationships as well as mechanisms governing the postsynaptic response.

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Acknowledgements

We thank H.-L. Wang and W. Y. Lee for generating the structural figures. Work in the authors' laboratories was supported by grants to S.M.S. and A.G.E. from the National Institutes of Health, and a grant to A.G.E. from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Affiliations

  1. Departments of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.

    • Steven M. Sine
  2. Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.

    • Andrew G. Engel

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Steven M. Sine.

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