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Papers of the Week

Papers: 14 Mar 2020 - 20 Mar 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Mar 16

Sci Rep



Modulation of glycine receptor single-channel conductance by intracellular phosphorylation.


Moraga-Cid G, San Martín VP, Lara CO, Muñoz B, Marileo AM, Sazo A, Muñoz-Montesino C, Fuentealba J, Castro PA, Guzmán L, Burgos CF, Zeilhofer HU, Aguayo LG, Corringer P-J, Yévenes GE
Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 16; 10(1):4804.
PMID: 32179786.


Glycine receptors (GlyRs) are anion-permeable pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs). The GlyR activation is critical for the control of key neurophysiological functions, such as motor coordination, respiratory control, muscle tone and pain processing. The relevance of the GlyR function is further highlighted by the presence of abnormal glycinergic inhibition in many pathophysiological states, such as hyperekplexia, epilepsy, autism and chronic pain. In this context, previous studies have shown that the functional inhibition of  GlyRs containing the α3 subunit is a pivotal mechanism of pain hypersensitivity. This pathway involves the activation of EP2 receptors and the subsequent PKA-dependent phosphorylation of α3GlyRs within the intracellular domain (ICD), which decrease the GlyR-associated currents and enhance neuronal excitability. Despite the importance of this mechanism of glycinergic dis-inhibition associated with dysfunctional α3GlyRs, our current understanding of the molecular events involved is limited. Here, we report that the activation of PKA signaling pathway decreases the unitary conductance of α3GlyRs. We show in addition that the substitution of the PKA-targeted serine with a negatively charged residue within the ICD of α3GlyRs and of chimeric receptors combining bacterial GLIC and α3GlyR was sufficient to generate receptors with reduced conductance. Thus, our findings reveal a potential biophysical mechanism of glycinergic dis-inhibition and suggest that post-translational modifications of the ICD, such as phosphorylation, may shape the conductance of other pLGICs.