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N‐glycan content modulates kainate receptor functional properties

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The Journal of Physiology

Published online on


Ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) are tetrameric proteins with between 4 and 12 consensus sites for N‐glycosylation on each subunit, which potentially allows for a high degree of structural diversity conferred by this post‐translational modification. N‐glycosylation is required for proper folding of iGluRs in mammalian cells, but the impact of oligosaccharides on the function of successfully folded receptors is less clear. Glycan moieties are large, polar, occasionally charged, and mediate many protein‐protein interactions throughout the nervous system. Additionally, they are attached at sites along iGluR subunits that position them for involvement in the structural changes underlying gating. We show here that altering glycan content on kainate receptors (KARs) changes the functional properties of the receptors in a manner dependent on the identity of both the modified sugars and the subunit composition of the receptor to which they are attached. We also report that native KARs carry the complex capping oligosaccharide HNK‐1. Glycosylation patterns likely differ between cell types, across development, or with pathologies, and thus our findings reveal a potential mechanism for context‐specific fine‐tuning of KAR function through diversity in glycan structure. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved