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Receptor families reunited.

Receptor families reunited

In brain chemistry, function, notstructure, has traditionally dictated how scientists identify the cellular components called receptors--the membrane proteins that use different mechanisms to regulate the transport of information-carrying chemicals into brain cells. But two new studies suggest grouping receptors together into structural "superfamilies.'

West German researchers at threeuniversities have identified the sequence of amino acids that form the receptor for glycine, itself an amino acid that inhibits nervous activity in cells of the brain stem and spinal cord. Other scientists, at the Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, and at Genentech in South San Francisco, have used similar techniques to determine the amino-acid structure of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor. GABA likewise inhibits nerve cell activity. The results show that the two newly sequenced receptors are surprisingly similar in structure.

Both groups also report in the July 16NATURE that the respective receptors have a significant number of amino-acid arrangements that are identical to those in receptors for yet another cell-signaling chemical called acetylcholine, which excites, rather than inhibits, muscle and nerve activity.
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Title Annotation:studies on grouping of brain receptors into structural 'superfamilies'
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 18, 1987
Words:176
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