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Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) are receptor proteins that are sensitive to their membrane environment, but the mechanism for how lipids modulate function under physiological conditions in a state dependent manner is not known. The glycine receptor is a pLGIC whose structure has been resolved in different functional states. Using a realistic model of a neuronal membrane coupled with coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, we demonstrate that some key lipid-protein interactions are dependent on the receptor state, suggesting that lipids may regulate the receptor's conformational dynamics. Comparison with existing structural data confirms known lipid binding sites, but we also predict further protein-lipid interactions including a site at the communication interface between the extracellular and transmembrane domain. Moreover, in the active state, cholesterol can bind to the binding site of the positive allosteric modulator ivermectin. These protein-lipid interaction sites could in future be exploited for the rational design of lipid-like allosteric drugs.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS Comput Biol

Publication Date