Editors' ChoiceStructural Biology

Intact NMDA Receptor Structure Revealed

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Science Signaling  03 Jun 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 328, pp. ec149
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005538

For brains to develop and form memories, a signal must be transmitted from one neuron to the next. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that excites the receiving nerve cell by binding to an ion channel called an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This activates the NMDA receptors, causing calcium ions to flood in, triggering signal transduction. Either under- or overactivation can result in a variety of neurological disorders and diseases. Karakas and Furukawa describe the crystal structure of an intact NMDA receptor composed of four separate subunits.

E. Karakas, H. Furukawa, Crystal structure of a heterotetrameric NMDA receptor ion channel. Science 344, 992–997 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]