Functional assessment of triheteromeric NMDA receptors containing a human variant associated with epilepsy

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Abstract / Description of output

NMDA receptors are ionotropic calcium‐permeable glutamate receptors with a voltage‐dependence mediated by blockade by Mg2+. Their activation is important in signal transduction, as well as synapse formation and maintenance. Two unrelated individuals with epileptic encephalopathy carry a de novo variant in the gene encoding the GluN2A NMDA receptor subunit: a N615K missense variant in the M2 pore helix (GRIN2AC1845A). We hypothesized that this variant underlies the neurodevelopmental disorders in carriers and explored its functional consequences by electrophysiological analysis in heterologous systems. We focused on GluN2AN615K co‐expressed with wild‐type GluN2 subunits in physiologically relevant triheteromeric NMDA receptors containing two GluN1 and two distinct GluN2 subunits, whereas previous studies have investigated the impact of the variant in diheteromeric NMDA receptors with two GluN1 and two identical GluN2 subunits. We found that GluN2AN615K‐containing triheteromers showed markedly reduced Mg2+ blockade, with a value intermediate between GluN2AN615K diheteromers and wild‐type NMDA receptors. Single‐channel conductance was reduced by four‐fold in GluN2AN615K diheteromers, again with an intermediate value in GluN2AN615K‐containing triheteromers. Glutamate deactivation rates were unaffected. Furthermore, we expressed GluN2AN615K in cultured primary mouse cortical neurons, observing a decrease in Mg2+ blockade and reduction in current density, confirming that the variant continues to have significant functional impact in neuronal systems. Our results demonstrate that the GluN2AN615K variant has substantial effects on NMDA receptor properties fundamental to the roles of the receptor in synaptic plasticity, even when expressed alongside wild‐type subunits. This work strengthens the evidence indicating that the GluN2AN615K variant underlies the disabling neurodevelopmental phenotype in carriers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Early online date2 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2019


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