Allosteric modulation of GluN1/GluN3 NMDA receptors by GluN1-selective competitive antagonists

Nirvan Rouzbeh, Andrew R. Rau, Avery J. Benton, Feng Yi, Carly M. Anderson, Mia R. Johns, Loren Jensen, James S. Lotti, David C. Holley, Kasper B. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


NMDA-type ionotropic glutamate receptors are critical for normal brain function and are implicated in central nervous system disorders. Structure and function of NMDA receptors composed of GluN1 and GluN3 subunits are less understood compared to those composed of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits. GluN1/3 receptors display unusual activation properties in which binding of glycine to GluN1 elicits strong desensitization, while glycine binding to GluN3 alone is sufficient for activation. Here, we explore mechanisms by which GluN1-selective competitive antagonists, CGP-78608 and L-689,560, potentiate GluN1/3A and GluN1/3B receptors by preventing glycine binding to GluN1. We show that both CGP-78608 and L-689,560 prevent desensitization of GluN1/3 receptors, but CGP-78608-bound receptors display higher glycine potency and efficacy at GluN3 subunits compared to L-689,560-bound receptors. Furthermore, we demonstrate that L-689,560 is a potent antagonist of GluN1FA+TL/3A receptors, which are mutated to abolish glycine binding to GluN1, and that this inhibition is mediated by a non-competitive mechanism involving binding to the mutated GluN1 agonist binding domain (ABD) to negatively modulate glycine potency at GluN3A. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that CGP-78608 and L-689,560 binding or mutations in the GluN1 glycine binding site promote distinct conformations of the GluN1 ABD, suggesting that the GluN1 ABD conformation influences agonist potency and efficacy at GluN3 subunits. These results uncover the mechanism that enables activation of native GluN1/3A receptors by application of glycine in the presence of CGP-78608, but not L-689,560, and demonstrate strong intra-subunit allosteric interactions in GluN1/3 receptors that may be relevant to neuronal signaling in brain function and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202313340
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 5 2023


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate/metabolism
  • Protein Domains
  • Glycine/pharmacology
  • Binding Sites


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