1. Studies on convulsants in the isolated frog spinal cord. I. Antagonism of amino acid responses
J L Barker, R A Nicoll, A Padjen J Physiol. 1975 Mar;245(3):521-36. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1975.sp010859.
1. The isolated frog spinal cord was used to study the effects of picrotoxin, bicuculline, and strychnine on the responses of primary afferents to amino acids. Recording was by sucrose gap technique. 2. A series of neutral amino acids was found to depolarize primary afferents. Optimal activity was obtained by an amino acid whose carboxyl and amino groups were separated by a three-carbon chain length (i.e. GABA). Amino acids with shorter (i.e. beta-alanine, glycine) or longer (i.e. delta-aminovaleric acid, epsilon-aminocaproic acid) distances between the charged groups were less potent. Imidazoleacetic acid was the most potent depolarizing agent tested. 3. Picrotoxin and bicuculline antagonized the primary afferent depolarizations of a number of amino acids tested with equal specificity. Depolarizing responses to standard (10- minus 3 M) concentrations of beta-alanine and taurine were completely blocked by these convulsants, while depolarizations to 10- minus 3 gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) were only partially antagonized. Glycine responses were unaffected by these agentsk; Strychnine completely blocked beta-alanine and taurine depolarizations and incompletely antagonized several other neutral amino acids. GABA, glutamate, and glycine depolarizations were not affected. 5. These results suggest that there are at least three distinct populations of neutral amino acid receptors on primary afferent terminals: a GABA-like receptor, a taurine/beta-alanine receptor, and a glycine-like receptor. The strychnine resistance of the glycine responses indictaes that the primary afferent receptors for glycine differ from those on the somata of spinal neurones.
2. Glycine-related amino acids stereoselectively affect N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated contractions of guinea pig ileum: comparison with the inhibition of strychnine-insensitive [3H]glycine binding to rat cortical membranes
A Galli, S Franchi-Micheli, F Mori, S Luzzi, L Zilletti Neuropharmacology. 1990 Feb;29(2):145-50. doi: 10.1016/0028-3908(90)90054-u.
Ten microM glycine, D-serine and D-alanine potentiated L-glutamate (30 microM)-induced contractions of the guinea pig ileum by an average of 35, 53 and 24%, respectively. On the contrary, D-cysteine, at the same concentration, caused a 21% inhibition of the contractile response to L-glutamate. This inhibitory effect of D-cysteine was abolished by 10 microM glycine. The corresponding L-isomers of these amino acids, namely L-serine, L-alanine and L-cysteine and the other amino acids tested, possessed negligible activity or were inactive in this test. The IC50 values of the same compounds for strychnine-insensitive binding of [3H]glycine (20 nM) to cortical membranes from the brain of the rat were: 0.26 microM, glycine; 1.2 microM, D-serine; 2.1 microM, D-alanine; 8.6 microM, D-cysteine; 51 microM, L-serine; 90 microM, L-alanine; greater than 1000 microM, L-cysteine. On the whole, these results point out a strict requirement for stereoselectivity for both of the effects examined. In addition, the results obtained in the ileum preparation suggest that D-cysteine may act as an antagonist, rather than as an agonist at the glycine site which regulates the responses of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors.
3. Comparison of the actions of glycine and related amino acids on isolated third order neurons from the tiger salamander retina
Z H Pan, M M Slaughter Neuroscience. 1995 Jan;64(1):153-64. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(94)00399-p.
Whole cell voltage and current clamp recordings were obtained from third order neurons isolated from the salamander retina. Using cross desensitization, the structure-function relationship of short chain amino acids on the glycine receptor were examined. L-Serine, L-alanine, beta-alanine and taurine all cross desensitized with glycine, but did not show significant cross desensitization with GABA. This indicates that these amino acids act at the glycine receptor. The order of potency was glycine >> beta-alanine > taurine >> L-alanine > L-serine. TAG, a reputed selective taurine antagonist, was equally effective in blocking taurine and glycine currents. There is no evidence for distinct receptors for taurine. Amino acids with larger moieties at the alpha carbon, such as threonine and valine, produced inactive ligands. Placing a methyl group on the amine of glycine or esterification of the carboxyl group also greatly reduced activity. Based on these modifications of the glycine molecule, it appears that selectivity at the glycine receptor results in part from steric restrictions at all three sites in the glycine chain. The steric interference is most critical at the carboxyl and amino ends, and less limiting at the alpha carbon. Doses of L-serine that had only slight effects in voltage clamp experiments, nevertheless produced large effects in current clamp experiments. This indicates that several endogenous amino acids can have significant effects on membrane voltage, even when their shunting activity may be small. High concentrations of agonists produced desensitization in the voltage clamp records, but there was little evidence of desensitization in the current clamp experiments. These results indicate that several endogenous amino acids can activate the glycine receptor, but there is no evidence for a discrete receptor for taurine, beta-alanine, L-alanine or L-serine. Since all these endogenous amino acids have similar amino and acid terminals, reduction in potency results from steric interference around the alpha carbon. This graded potency may have functional significance in mediating inhibition.