Application of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor nanopore in screening ligand molecules

Shu-Peng Li, Yong-Chao Zhang, Fang-Zhou Hu, Tharani Sabaretnam, Gilles J. Guillemin*, Ai-Hua Zou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are crucial for excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. To study NMDARs more accurately and conveniently, we developed a stable NMDAR nanopore in a planar lipid bilayer. Pharmacological properties were validated using the allosteric modulator Ro 25-6981 and antagonist D-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (D-APV). The cyanotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) found in fresh water systems is suspected to be associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, BMAA and its two isomers L-2, 4-Diaminobutyric acid dihydrochloride (DAB) and N-(2-aminoethyl) glycine (AEG) and an endogenous excitotoxin, quinolinic acid (QA), were studied using the NMDAR nanopores to assess their effects on NMDAR modulation. We demonstrated that the NMDAR nanopore could reliably detect its ligand molecules at the single-channel level. The study also demonstrated the practicability of NMDAR nanopores, and results were validated using two-electrode voltage-clamp (TEVC) recording. Compared with TEVC recording, the NMDAR nanopores conducted ion channel gating at the single-channel level without being affected by other proteins on the cell membrane. The highly sensitive and accurate NMDAR nanopore technique thus has a unique advantage in screening NMDAR ligand molecules that could be associated with neurodegenerative disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107534
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • BMAA
  • Ligand molecules screening
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • NMDAR nanopore recording
  • Quinolinic acid
  • Sensitivity


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