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Optocontrol of glutamate receptor activity by single side-chain photoisomerization.

  • Author(s): Klippenstein, Viktoria;
  • Hoppmann, Christian;
  • Ye, Shixin;
  • Wang, Lei;
  • Paoletti, Pierre
  • et al.
Abstract

Engineering light-sensitivity into proteins has wide ranging applications in molecular studies and neuroscience. Commonly used tethered photoswitchable ligands, however, require solvent-accessible protein labeling, face structural constrains, and are bulky. Here, we designed a set of optocontrollable NMDA receptors by directly incorporating single photoswitchable amino acids (PSAAs) providing genetic encodability, reversibility, and site tolerance. We identified several positions within the multi-domain receptor endowing robust photomodulation. PSAA photoisomerization at the GluN1 clamshell hinge is sufficient to control glycine sensitivity and activation efficacy. Strikingly, in the pore domain, flipping of a M3 residue within a conserved transmembrane cavity impacts both gating and permeation properties. Our study demonstrates the first detection of molecular rearrangements in real-time due to the reversible light-switching of single amino acid side-chains, adding a dynamic dimension to protein site-directed mutagenesis. This novel approach to interrogate neuronal protein function has general applicability in the fast expanding field of optopharmacology.

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