Unique general anesthetic binding sites within distinct conformational states of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Arias HR, Kem WR, Trudell JR, Blanton MP.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
College of Pharmacy,
Western University of Health Sciences,
Pomona, California 91766, USA.
Int Rev Neurobiol. 2003;54:1-50.


General anesthesia is a complex behavioral state provoked by the pharmacological action of a broad range of structurally different hydrophobic molecules called general anesthetics (GAs) on receptor members of the genetically linked ligand-gated ion channel (LGIC) superfamily. This superfamily includes nicotinic acetylcholine (AChRs), type A and C gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABAAR and GABACR), glycine (GlyR), and type 3 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT3R) receptors. This review focuses on recent advances in the localization of GA binding sites on conformationally and compositionally distinct AChRs. The experimental evidence outlined in this review suggests that: 1. Several neuronal-type AChRs might be targets for the pharmacological action of distinct GAs. 2. The molecular components of a specific GA binding site on a certain receptor subtype are different from the structural determinants of the locus for the same GA on a different receptor subtype. 3. There are unique binding sites for distinct GAs in the same receptor protein. 4. A GA can activate, potentiate, or inhibit an ion channel, indicating the existence of more than one binding site for the same GA. 5. The affinity of a specific GA depends on the conformational state of the receptor. 6. GAs inhibition channels by at least two mechanisms, an open-channel-blocking and/or an allosteric mechanism. 7. Certain GAs may inhibit AChR function by competing for the agonist binding sites or by augmenting the desensitization rate.
Glycine receptors
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Chloroform anaesthesia
Anaesthesia: mechanisms

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