Structural determinants and mechanism of action of a GluN2C-selective NMDA receptor positive allosteric modulator

Alpa Khatri, Pieter B. Burger, Sharon A. Swanger, Kasper B. Hansen, Sommer Zimmerman, Erkan Karakas, Dennis C. Liotta, Hiro Furukawa, James P. Snyder, Stephen F. Traynelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


NMDA receptors are tetrameric complexes of GluN1, GluN2A-D, and GluN3A-B subunits and are involved in normal brain function and neurologic disorders. We identified a novel class of stereoselective pyrrolidinone (PYD) positive allosteric modulators for GluN2C-containing NMDA receptors, exemplified by methyl 4-(3-acetyl-4-hydroxy-1-[2-(2-methyl-1H-indol-3-yl)ethyl]-5-oxo-2,5-dihydro-1H-pyrrol-2-yl)benzoate. Here we explore the site and mechanism of action of a prototypical analog, PYD-106, which at 30 μM does not alter responses of NMDA receptors containing GluN2A, GluN2B, and GluN2D and has no effect on AMPA [α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid] and kainate receptors. Coapplication of 50 μM PYD-106 with a maximally effective concentration of glutamate and glycine increases the response of GluN1/GluN2C NMDA receptors in HEK-293 cells to 221% of that obtained in the absence of PYD (taken as 100%). Evaluation of the concentration dependence of this enhancement revealed an EC50 value for PYD of 13 μM. PYD-106 increased opening frequency and open time of single channel currents activated by maximally effective concentrations of agonist but only had modest effects on glutamate and glycine EC50. PYD-106 selectively enhanced the responses of diheteromeric GluN1/GluN2C receptors but not triheteromeric GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2C receptors. Inclusion of residues encoded by GluN1-exon 5 attenuated the effects of PYD. Three GluN2C residues (Arg194, Ser470, Lys470), at which mutagenesis virtually eliminated PYD function, line a cavity at the interface of the ligand binding and the amino terminal domains in a homology model of GluN1/GluN2C built from crystallographic data on GluN1/GluN2B. We propose that this domain interface constitutes a new allosteric modulatory site on the NMDA receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-560
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


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