Researchers create 3-D model of elusive brain receptor

The NMDA receptor with receptor subunits in different colors.

Exciting news from the Gouaux Lab this week: researchers have discovered new information about the structure of an important brain receptor that is crucial for learning and memory. Malfunction of the receptor, N-methyl-D-asparate (NMDA), is known to cause a variety of neurological disorders and diseases, but until now, researchers had limited information about how its subunits operate in the brain.

Using X-ray crystallography, Dr. Gouaux and his team at the OHSU Vollum Institute created a 3-D model of the NMDA receptor. The model allows them to gain new insight into how the receptor subunits are structured and how they interact to carry out specific functions. Using this more detailed view of the receptor as a map, researchers may be able to develop new drugs that treat neurological disorders.

The research was published online in Nature on June 22. View the OHSU news release to learn more.

This research was funded by a gift from Bernard and Jennifer Lacroute, along with a grant from the National Institutes of Health (#R37NS038631) and support from the Vollum Institute. Chia-Hsueh Lee, the paper’s first author, is supported by an OHSU Brain Institute Fellowship, funded by Ronni Lacroute.