NMDA receptors have received a great deal of attention because of their role in synaptic plasticity, seizure initiation, and ischemia-induced neuronal death. Recent crystallographic advances have provided the first structure for the agonist binding domains of NR1 and NR2A subunits, and recent functional studies have provided the first conceptual models of NR1/NR2A receptor activation that account for both single channel and macroscopic properties. These advances create an ideal opportunity to explore in detail the relationship between structure and function for NMDA receptors. We will evaluate function in the context of structure for NR1/NR2C and NR1/NR2D receptors, which remain poorly understood despite their roles in striatal and cerebellar function and the intriguing therapeutic potential of NR2C/NR2D subunit-selective modulators. The proposed experiments exploit our recent success in obtaining outside-out membrane patches that contain only one active channel to examine the function of NR1/NR2C and NR1/NR2D receptors activated by both glutamate and novel subunit-selective agonists and modulators. Single channel studies will be extended to native NR2D-containing receptors and recombinant heterotrimeric receptors containing two different NR2 subunits, which can be unambiguously isolated in one channel patches. Complementary experiments will exploit structural data by using atomic co-variance analysis of molecular dynamics simulations of the agonist binding domains for all NR1/NR2 combinations to evaluate long-range intra-protein motions. Our preliminary data reveal intra-protein motions that show domain closure, a pivot around the NR1/NR2 dimer interface, and different interdomain contacts between functionally dissimilar NR2A and NR2D. Understanding the relationship between structure and function is a pre-requisite to rational drug design, which may ultimately yield therapeutically relevant compounds. Proposed experiments will address four questions. 1. How do the NR2C and NR2D subunits control NMDA receptor activation? 2. What are the functional properties of heterotrimeric NR1/NR2A/NR2D and NR1/NR2B/NR2D receptors? 3. How does the NR2D subunit control native NMDA receptor activation? 4. What structural features of the NR1/NR2 dimer influence intra-protein motion and receptor activation?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurotransporters, Receptors, and Calcium Signaling Study Section (NTRC)
Program Officer
Silberberg, Shai D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Emory University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Hu, Chun; Chen, Wenjuan; Myers, Scott J et al. (2016) Human GRIN2B variants in neurodevelopmental disorders. J Pharmacol Sci 132:115-121
Swanger, Sharon A; Chen, Wenjuan; Wells, Gordon et al. (2016) Mechanistic Insight into NMDA Receptor Dysregulation by Rare Variants in the GluN2A and GluN2B Agonist Binding Domains. Am J Hum Genet 99:1261-1280
Li, Dong; Yuan, Hongjie; Ortiz-Gonzalez, Xilma R et al. (2016) GRIN2D Recurrent De Novo Dominant Mutation Causes a Severe Epileptic Encephalopathy Treatable with NMDA Receptor Channel Blockers. Am J Hum Genet 99:802-816
Swanger, Sharon A; Vance, Katie M; Pare, Jean-François et al. (2015) NMDA Receptors Containing the GluN2D Subunit Control Neuronal Function in the Subthalamic Nucleus. J Neurosci 35:15971-83
Yuan, Hongjie; Myers, Scott J; Wells, Gordon et al. (2015) Context-dependent GluN2B-selective inhibitors of NMDA receptor function are neuroprotective with minimal side effects. Neuron 85:1305-18
EpiPM Consortium (2015) A roadmap for precision medicine in the epilepsies. Lancet Neurol 14:1219-28
Poulsen, Mette H; Andersen, Jacob; Christensen, Rune et al. (2015) Binding of ArgTX-636 in the NMDA receptor ion channel. J Mol Biol 427:176-89
Yuan, Hongjie; Low, Chian-Ming; Moody, Olivia A et al. (2015) Ionotropic GABA and Glutamate Receptor Mutations and Human Neurologic Diseases. Mol Pharmacol 88:203-17
Yuan, Hongjie; Hansen, Kasper B; Zhang, Jing et al. (2014) Functional analysis of a de novo GRIN2A missense mutation associated with early-onset epileptic encephalopathy. Nat Commun 5:3251
Hansen, Kasper B; Ogden, Kevin K; Yuan, Hongjie et al. (2014) Distinct functional and pharmacological properties of Triheteromeric GluN1/GluN2A/GluN2B NMDA receptors. Neuron 81:1084-96

Showing the most recent 10 out of 40 publications