Single channel analysis of thiol binding to a putative site of alcohol action on the glycine receptor
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An alcohol and anesthetic binding pocket is hypothesized to exist among transmembrane domains of the α1 glycine receptor (GlyR). Prior work has shown that amino acid residue serine-267 plays a significant role in the enhancing effects of alcohol and anesthetics and is theorized to form part of an alcohol and anesthetic binding cavity among subunit transmembrane domains. Propyl methanethiosulfonate (PMTS), an alcohol-like thiol, was previously shown to bind to a cysteine residue introduced at position 267 (S267C) and this resulted in permanent enhancement of GlyR function. If ethanol is binding to residue 267 in wildtype GlyR to potentiate receptor function then we hypothesized that covalent thiol labeling would produce receptor enhancement by the same mechanisms as ethanol. Using outside-out patch single channel electrophysiology we determined the open and closed dwell-times and burst properties of S267C GlyR in the absence and presence of PMTS. The primary consequence of PMTS binding to S267C GlyR was an increase in the lengths of burst durations, paralleling the main effect of ethanol on wildtype GlyR. Our findings thus provide a new line of evidence suggesting that ethanol is exerting its enhancing effects on the GlyR through its interactions with amino acid residue 267 in the second transmembrane domain.