Seeking Structural Specificity: Direct Modulation of Pentameric Ligand-Gated Ion Channels by Alcohols and General Anesthetics
Alcohols and other anesthetic agents dramatically alter neurologic function in a wide range of organisms, yet their molecular sites of action remain poorly characterized. Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels, long implicated in important direct effects of alcohol and anesthetic binding, have recently been illuminated in renewed detail thanks to the determination of atomic-resolution structures of several family members from lower organisms. These structures provide valuable models for understanding and developing anesthetic agents and for allosteric modulation in general. This review surveys progress in this field from function to structure and back again, outlining early evidence for relevant modulation of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels and the development of early structural models for ion channel function and modulation. We highlight insights and challenges provided by recent crystal structures and resulting simulations, as well as opportunities for translation of these newly detailed models back to behavior and therapy.
Howard, R. J.; Trudell, J. R.; Adron Harris, R., Seeking structural specificity: direct modulation of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels by alcohols and general anesthetics. Pharmacol. Rev. 2014, 66 (2), 396-412, 17 pp.