Summary: Neurotransmitter-gated ion-channel transmembrane region
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Ligand-gated ion channel Edit Wikipedia article
|Neurotransmitter-gated ion-channel transmembrane region|
Ligand-gated ion channel
Ligand-gated ion channels (LICs, LGIC), (TC# 1.A.9), also commonly referred as ionotropic receptors, are a group of transmembrane ion channel proteins which open to allow ions such as Na+, K+, Ca2+, and/or Cl− to pass through the membrane in response to the binding of a chemical messenger (i.e. a ligand), such as a neurotransmitter.
When a presynaptic neuron is excited, it releases neurotransmitter from vesicles into the synaptic cleft. The neurotransmitter then binds to receptors located on the postsynaptic neuron. If these receptors are ligand-gated ion channels, a resulting conformational change opens the ion channels, which leads to a flow of ions across the cell membrane. This, in turn, results in either a depolarization, for an excitatory receptor response, or a hyperpolarization, for an inhibitory response.
These proteins are typically composed of at least two different domains: a transmembrane domain which includes the ion pore, and an extracellular domain which includes the ligand binding location (an allosteric binding site). This modularity has enabled a 'divide and conquer' approach to finding the structure of the proteins (crystallising each domain separately). The function of such receptors located at synapses is to convert the chemical signal of presynaptically released neurotransmitter directly and very quickly into a postsynaptic electrical signal. Many LICs are additionally modulated by allosteric ligands, by channel blockers, ions, or the membrane potential. LICs are classified into three superfamilies which lack evolutionary relationship: cys-loop receptors, ionotropic glutamate receptors and ATP-gated channels.
- 1 Cys-loop receptors
- 2 Ionotropic glutamate receptors
- 3 GABA receptors
- 4 5-HT receptors
- 5 ATP-gated channels
- 6 PIP2-gated channels
- 7 Indirect modulation
- 8 Clinical relevance
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The cys-loop receptors are named after a characteristic loop formed by a disulfide bond between two cysteine residues in the N terminal extracellular domain. They are part of a larger family of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels that usually lack this disulfide bond, hence the tentative name "Pro-loop receptors". A binding site in the extracellular N-terminal ligand-binding domain gives them receptor specificity for (1) acetylcholine (AcCh), (2) serotonin, (3) glycine, (4) glutamate and (5) γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in vertebrates. The receptors are subdivided with respect to the type of ion that they conduct (anionic or cationic) and further into families defined by the endogenous ligand. They are usually pentameric with each subunit containing 4 transmembrane helices constituting the transmembrane domain, and a beta sheet sandwich type, extracellular, N terminal, ligand binding domain. Some also contain an intracellular domain like shown in the image.
The prototypic ligand-gated ion channel is the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. It consists of a pentamer of protein subunits (typically ααβγδ), with two binding sites for acetylcholine (one at the interface of each alpha subunit). When the acetylcholine binds it alters the receptor's configuration (twists the T2 helices which moves the leucine residues, which block the pore, out of the channel pathway) and causes the constriction in the pore of approximately 3 angstroms to widen to approximately 8 angstroms so that ions can pass through. This pore allows Na+ ions to flow down their electrochemical gradient into the cell. With a sufficient number of channels opening at once, the inward flow of positive charges carried by Na+ ions depolarizes the postsynaptic membrane sufficiently to initiate an action potential.
While single-cell organisms like bacteria would have little apparent need for the transmission of an action potential, a bacterial homologue to an LIC has been identified, hypothesized to act nonetheless as a chemoreceptor. This prokaryotic nAChR variant is known as the GLIC receptor, after the species in which it was identified; Gloeobacter Ligand-gated Ion C channel.
Cys-loop receptors have structural elements that are well conserved, with a large extracellular domain (ECD) harboring an alpha-helix and 10 beta-strands. Following the ECD, four transmembrane segments (TMSs) are connected by intracellular and extracellular loop structures. Except the TMS 3-4 loop, their lengths are only 7-14 residues. The TMS 3-4 loop forms the largest part of the intracellular domain (ICD) and exhibits the most variable region between all of these homologous receptors. The ICD is defined by the TMS 3-4 loop together with the TMS 1-2 loop preceding the ion channel pore. Crystallization has revealed structures for some members of the family, but to allow crystallization, the intracellular loop was usually replaced by a short linker present in prokaryotic cys-loop receptors, so their structures as not known. Nevertheless, this intracellular loop appears to function in desensitization, modulation of channel physiology by pharmacological substances, and posttranslational modifications. Motifs important for trafficking are therein, and the ICD interacts with scaffold proteins enabling inhibitory synapse formation.
Cationic cys-loop receptors
protein name 
|ACHRA, ACHRD, CHRNA, CMS2A, FCCMS, SCCMS
|CMS2A, SCCMS, ACHRB, CHRNB, CMS1D
|delta||δ||CHRND||ACHRD, CMS2A, FCCMS, SCCMS|
|epsilon||ε||CHRNE||ACHRE, CMS1D, CMS1E, CMS2A, FCCMS, SCCMS|
|Zinc-activated ion channel
|ZAC||ZACN||ZAC1, L2m LICZ, LICZ1|
Anionic cys-loop receptors
|CAE2, ECA2, GEFSP3|
Ionotropic glutamate receptors
The ionotropic glutamate receptors bind the neurotransmitter glutamate. They form tetramers with each subunit consisting of an extracellular amino terminal domain (ATD, which is involved tetramer assembly), an extracellular ligand binding domain (LBD, which binds glutamate), and a transmembrane domain (TMD, which forms the ion channel). The transmembrane domain of each subunit contains three transmembrane helices as well as a half membrane helix with a reentrant loop. The structure of the protein starts with the ATD at the N terminus followed by the first half of the LBD which is interrupted by helices 1,2 and 3 of the TMD before continuing with the final half of the LBD and then finishing with helix 4 of the TMD at the C terminus. This means there are three links between the TMD and the extracellular domains. Each subunit of the tetramer has a binding site for glutamate formed by the two LBD sections forming a clamshell like shape. Only two of these sites in the tetramer need to be occupied to open the ion channel. The pore is mainly formed by the half helix 2 in a way which resembles an inverted potassium channel.
protein name 
|GLUA1, GluR1, GluRA, GluR-A, GluR-K1, HBGR1
GLUA2, GluR2, GluRB, GluR-B, GluR-K2, HBGR2
GLUA3, GluR3, GluRC, GluR-C, GluR-K3
GLUA4, GluR4, GluRD, GluR-D
|GLUK5, GluR5, GluR-5, EAA3
GLUK6, GluR6, GluR-6, EAA4
GLUK7, GluR7, GluR-7, EAA5
GLUK1, KA1, KA-1, EAA1
GLUK2, KA2, KA-2, EAA2
|GLUN1, NMDA-R1, NR1, GluRξ1
|GLUN2A, NMDA-R2A, NR2A, GluRε1
GLUN2B, NMDA-R2B, NR2B, hNR3, GluRε2
GLUN2C, NMDA-R2C, NR2C, GluRε3
GLUN2D, NMDA-R2D, NR2D, GluRε4
|GLUN3A, NMDA-R3A, NMDAR-L, chi-1
The α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (also known as AMPA receptor, or quisqualate receptor) is a non-NMDA-type ionotropic transmembrane receptor for glutamate that mediates fast synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS). Its name is derived from its ability to be activated by the artificial glutamate analog AMPA. The receptor was first named the "quisqualate receptor" by Watkins and colleagues after a naturally occurring agonist quisqualate and was only later given the label "AMPA receptor" after the selective agonist developed by Tage Honore and colleagues at the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy in Copenhagen. AMPARs are found in many parts of the brain and are the most commonly found receptor in the nervous system. The AMPA receptor GluA2 (GluR2) tetramer was the first glutamate receptor ion channel to be crystallized.
- Agonists: Glutamate, AMPA, 5-Fluorowillardiine, Domoic acid, Quisqualic acid, etc.
- Antagonists: CNQX, Ethanol, Kynurenic acid, NBQX, Perampanel, Piracetam, etc.
- Positive allosteric modulators: Aniracetam, Cyclothiazide, CX-516, CX-614, etc.
- Negative allosteric modulators: Perampanel, Talampanel, GYKI-52,466, etc.
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA receptor) is a type of ionotropic glutamate receptor, also a known voltage-gated ion channel. Studies show that it is related to synaptic plasticity and memory.
NMDA(N-methyl-D-aspartate) is a type of agonist that could specifically bind to NMDA receptors; it activates the receptor to open the cation channel. It allows Na+ and a small amount of Ca2+ to flow into the cell, which rises the potential. Thus, it is an excitatory receptor. As a voltage-gated ion channel, at resting potentials, most subtypes of NMDA receptor would block by extracellular Mg2+ and Zn2+ , which reduces the synaptic currents. "However, when neurons are depolarized, for example, by intense activation of colocalized postsynaptic AMPA receptors, the voltage-dependent block by Mg2+ is partially relieved, allowing ion influx through activated NMDA receptors. The resulting Ca2+ influx can trigger a variety of intracellular signaling cascades, which can ultimately change neuronal function through activation of various kinases and phosphatases".
- Agonists : Aminocyclopropanecarboxylic acid; D-Cycloserine; L-Aspartate; Quinolinate, etc.
- Partial agonists : N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA); NRX-1074; 3,5-dibromo-L-phenylalanine, etc.
- Antagonists : Ethanol; Ketamine; PCP; Dextropropoxyphene; Ketobemidone; Tramadol, Kynurenic acid(endogenous), etc
GABA receptors are major inhibitory neurotransmitter expressed in the major interneurons in animal cortex.
GABAA receptors are ligand-gated ion channels. GABA (γ-amino butyric acid) being its endogenous ligand, is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in central nervous system. When activated, it facilitates Cl- flow into the neuron, decrease the potential inside neuron, creating hyperpolarization effect. GABAA receptors occur in all organisms that have a nervous system. To a limited extent the receptors can be found in non-neuronal tissues. Due to their wide distribution within the nervous system of mammals they play a role in virtually all brain functions.
Research shows a series of ligands can specifically bind to GABAA receptor, activate/block the channel. Ligands:
- Agonists: GABA, muscimol, progabide, gaboxadol, etc.
- Antagonists: bicuculine, gabazine, etc.
- Partial agonist:piperidine-4-sulfonic acid, etc.
5-HT receptors, also known as the serotonin receptors, or 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors, are ligand-gated ion channels. They activate an intracellular second messenger cascade to produce an excitatory/inhibitory response. They are found in mammals, both central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS), as well as other animals. Its natural ligand is Serotonin, and it modulates the release of multiple neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, epinephrine/norepinephrine, glutamate, and GABA.
Research confirm that the 5-HT receptors are involved in many neurological processes, such as anxiety, depression, sleep, cognition, memory, and so on. Thus there are several drugs targeting the 5-HT system, including some antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, antiemetics, and antimigraine drugs, as well as the psychedelic drugs and empathogens.
protein name 
Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) binds to and directly agonizes Inward rectifying potassium channels(Kir). PIP2 is a plasma membrane lipid and its definitive role in gating ion channels was only recently demonstrated by X-ray crystallography.
In contrast to ligand-gated ion channels, there are also receptor systems in which the receptor and the ion channel are separate proteins in the cell membrane, instead of a single molecule. In this case, ion channels are indirectly modulated by activation of the receptor, instead of being gated directly.
Also called G protein-coupled receptor, seven-transmembrane domain receptor, 7 TM receptor, constitute a large protein family of receptors that sense molecules outside the cell and activate inside signal transduction pathways and, ultimately, cellular responses. They pass through the cell membrane 7 times. G-protein-Linked receptors are a huge family that have hundreds of members identified. Ion channel linked receptors (e.g. GABAB, NMDA, etc.) are only a part of them.
Table 1. Three major families of Trimeric G Proteins
|FAMILY||SOME FAMILY MEMBERS||ACTION MEDIATED BY||FUNCTIONS|
|I||GS||α||Activate adenylyl cyclase activates Ca2+ channels|
|Golf||α||Activates adenylyl cyclase in olfactory sensory neurons|
|II||Gi||α||Inhibits adenylyl cyclase|
|βɣ||Activates K+ channels|
|G0||βɣ||Activates K+ channels; inactivate Ca2+ channels|
|α and βɣ||Activates phospholipase C-β|
|Gt (transducin)||α||Activate cyclic GMP phosphodiesterase in vertebrate rod photoreceptors|
|III||Gq||α||Activates phospholipase C-β|
GABAB receptors are metabotropic transmembrane receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid. They are linked via G-proteins to K+ channels, when active, they create hyperpolarized effect and lower the potential inside the cell.
- Agonists: GABA, Baclofen, gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, Phenibut etc.
- Positive Allosteric Modulators: CGP-7930, Fendiline, BSPP, etc.
- Antagonists:2-OH-saclofen, Saclofen, SCH-50911
The cyclic-adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-generating enzyme adenylate cyclase is the effector of both the Gαs and Gαi/o pathways. Ten different AC gene products in mammals, each with subtle differences in tissue distribution and/or function, all catalyze the conversion of cytosolic adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to cAMP, and all are directly stimulated by G-proteins of the Gαs class. Interaction with Gα subunits of the Gαi/o type, on the contrary, inhibits AC from generating cAMP. Thus, a GPCR coupled to Gαs counteracts the actions of a GPCR coupled to Gαi/o, and vice versa. The level of cytosolic cAMP may then determine the activity of various ion channels as well as members of the ser/thr-specific protein kinase A (PKA) family. As a result, cAMP is considered a second messenger and PKA a secondary effector.
The effector of the Gαq/11 pathway is phospholipase C-β (PLCβ), which catalyzes the cleavage of membrane-bound phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate (PIP2) into the second messengers inositol (1,4,5) trisphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG). IP3 acts on IP3 receptors found in the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to elicit Ca2+ release from the ER, DAG diffuses along the plasma membrane where it may activate any membrane localized forms of a second ser/thr kinase called protein kinase C (PKC). Since many isoforms of PKC are also activated by increases in intracellular Ca2+, both these pathways can also converge on each other to signal through the same secondary effector. Elevated intracellular Ca2+ also binds and allosterically activates proteins called calmodulins, which in turn go on to bind and allosterically activate enzymes such as Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinases (CAMKs).
The effectors of the Gα12/13 pathway are three RhoGEFs (p115-RhoGEF, PDZ-RhoGEF, and LARG), which, when bound to Gα12/13 allosterically activate the cytosolic small GTPase, Rho. Once bound to GTP, Rho can then go on to activate various proteins responsible for cytoskeleton regulation such as Rho-kinase (ROCK). Most GPCRs that couple to Gα12/13 also couple to other sub-classes, often Gαq/11.
The above descriptions ignore the effects of Gβγ–signalling, which can also be important, in particular in the case of activated Gαi/o-coupled GPCRs. The primary effectors of Gβγ are various ion channels, such as G-protein-regulated inwardly rectifying K+ channels (GIRKs), P/Q- and N-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, as well as some isoforms of AC and PLC, along with some phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) isoforms.
Ligand-gated ion channels are likely to be the major site at which anaesthetic agents and ethanol have their effects, although unequivocal evidence of this is yet to be established. In particular, the GABA and NMDA receptors are affected by anaesthetic agents at concentrations similar to those used in clinical anaesthesia.
By understanding the mechanism and exploring the chemical/biological/physical component that could function on those receptors, more and more clinical applications are proven by preliminary experiments or FDA.
- Addiction treatment:
A series recent study shows that GABA receptors are involved with addiction-related behaviors, such as cocaine, heroin, alcohol, etc. Understanding the mechanism of receptors helped scientist develop pharmaceutical tools to treat addictions by modifying the receptors' activity.
Memantine is approved by the U.S. F.D.A and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease, and has now received a limited recommendation by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for patients who fail other treatment options.
- Antidepressant treatment
Agomelatine, is a type of drug that acts on a dual melatonergic-serotonergic pathway, which have shown its efficacy in the treatment of anxious depression during clinical trails, study also suggests the efficacy in the treatment of atypical and melancholic depression.
- Receptor (biochemistry)
- Action potential
- Voltage-dependent calcium channel
- Calcium-activated potassium channel
- Cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel
- Acid-sensing ion channel
- Ryanodine receptor
- Inositol trisphosphate receptor
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As of this edit, this article uses content from "1.A.9 The Neurotransmitter Receptor, Cys loop, Ligand-gated Ion Channel (LIC) Family", which is licensed in a way that permits reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.
This tab holds the annotation information that is stored in the Pfam database. As we move to using Wikipedia as our main source of annotation, the contents of this tab will be gradually replaced by the Wikipedia tab.
Neurotransmitter-gated ion-channel transmembrane region Provide feedback
This family includes the four transmembrane helices that form the ion channel.
Nury H, Bocquet N, Le Poupon C, Raynal B, Haouz A, Corringer PJ, Delarue M;, J Mol Biol. 2009; [Epub ahead of print]: Crystal Structure of the Extracellular Domain of a Bacterial Ligand-Gated Ion Channel. PUBMED:19917292 EPMC:19917292
Internal database links
External database links
|PRINTS:||PR00252 PR00253 PR00254|
This tab holds annotation information from the InterPro database.
InterPro entry IPR006029
Neurotransmitter ligand-gated ion channels are transmembrane receptor-ion channel complexes that open transiently upon binding of specific ligands, allowing rapid transmission of signals at chemical synapses [PUBMED:1721053, PUBMED:1846404]. Five of these ion channel receptor families have been shown to form a sequence-related superfamily:
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AchR), an excitatory cation channel in vertebrates and invertebrates; in vertebrate motor endplates it is composed of alpha, beta, gamma and delta/epsilon subunits; in neurons it is composed of alpha and non-alpha (or beta) subunits [PUBMED:18446614].
- Glycine receptor, an inhibitory chloride ion channel composed of alpha and beta subunits [PUBMED:15383648].
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor, an inhibitory chloride ion channel; at least four types of subunits (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) are known [PUBMED:18760291].
- Serotonin 5HT3 receptor, of which there are seven major types (5HT3-5HT7) [PUBMED:10026168].
- Glutamate receptor, an excitatory cation channel of which at least three types have been described (kainate, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and quisqualate) [PUBMED:15165736].
These receptors possess a pentameric structure (made up of varying subunits), surrounding a central pore. All known sequences of subunits from neurotransmitter-gated ion-channels are structurally related. They are composed of a large extracellular glycosylated N-terminal ligand-binding domain, followed by three hydrophobic transmembrane regions which form the ionic channel, followed by an intracellular region of variable length. A fourth hydrophobic region is found at the C-terminal of the sequence [PUBMED:1721053, PUBMED:1846404].
This domain represents four transmembrane helices of a variety of neurotransmitter-gated ion-channels.
The mapping between Pfam and Gene Ontology is provided by InterPro. If you use this data please cite InterPro.
|Cellular component||membrane (GO:0016020)|
|Biological process||ion transport (GO:0006811)|
Below is a listing of the unique domain organisations or architectures in which this domain is found. More...
The graphic that is shown by default represents the longest sequence with a given architecture. Each row contains the following information:
- the number of sequences which exhibit this architecture
a textual description of the architecture, e.g. Gla, EGF x 2, Trypsin.
This example describes an architecture with one
Gladomain, followed by two consecutive
EGFdomains, and finally a single
- a link to the page in the Pfam site showing information about the sequence that the graphic describes
- the UniProt description of the protein sequence
- the number of residues in the sequence
- the Pfam graphic itself.
Note that you can see the family page for a particular domain by clicking on the graphic. You can also choose to see all sequences which have a given architecture by clicking on the Show link in each row.
Finally, because some families can be found in a very large number of architectures, we load only the first fifty architectures by default. If you want to see more architectures, click the button at the bottom of the page to load the next set.
Loading domain graphics...
We store a range of different sequence alignments for families. As well as the seed alignment from which the family is built, we provide the full alignment, generated by searching the sequence database (reference proteomes) using the family HMM. We also generate alignments using four representative proteomes (RP) sets, the UniProtKB sequence database, the NCBI sequence database, and our metagenomics sequence database. More...
There are various ways to view or download the sequence alignments that we store. We provide several sequence viewers and a plain-text Stockholm-format file for download.
We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family:
- the curated alignment from which the HMM for the family is built
- the alignment generated by searching the sequence database using the HMM
- Representative Proteomes (RPs) at 15%, 35%, 55% and 75% co-membership thresholds
- alignment generated by searching the UniProtKB sequence database using the family HMM
- alignment generated by searching the NCBI sequence database using the family HMM
- alignment generated by searching the metagenomics sequence database using the family HMM
You can see the alignments as HTML or in three different sequence viewers:
- a Java applet developed at the University of Dundee. You will need Java installed before running jalview
- an HTML page showing the whole alignment.Please note: full Pfam alignments can be very large. These HTML views are extremely large and often cause problems for browsers. Please use either jalview or the Pfam viewer if you have trouble viewing the HTML version
- an HTML-based representation of the alignment, coloured according to the posterior-probability (PP) values from the HMM. As for the standard HTML view, heatmap alignments can also be very large and slow to render.
You can download (or view in your browser) a text representation of a Pfam alignment in various formats:
You can also change the order in which sequences are listed in the alignment, change how insertions are represented, alter the characters that are used to represent gaps in sequences and, finally, choose whether to download the alignment or to view it in your browser directly.
You may find that large alignments cause problems for the viewers and the reformatting tool, so we also provide all alignments in Stockholm format. You can download either the plain text alignment, or a gzipped version of it.
We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family. You can see a description of each above. You can view these alignments in various ways but please note that some types of alignment are never generated while others may not be available for all families, most commonly because the alignments are too large to handle.
1Cannot generate PP/Heatmap alignments for seeds; no PP data available
Key: available, not generated, — not available.
Format an alignment
We make all of our alignments available in Stockholm format. You can download them here as raw, plain text files or as gzip-compressed files.
You can also download a FASTA format file containing the full-length sequences for all sequences in the full alignment.
HMM logos is one way of visualising profile HMMs. Logos provide a quick overview of the properties of an HMM in a graphical form. You can see a more detailed description of HMM logos and find out how you can interpret them here. More...
If you find these logos useful in your own work, please consider citing the following article:
This page displays the phylogenetic tree for this family's seed alignment. We use FastTree to calculate neighbour join trees with a local bootstrap based on 100 resamples (shown next to the tree nodes). FastTree calculates approximately-maximum-likelihood phylogenetic trees from our seed alignment.
Note: You can also download the data file for the tree.
Curation and family details
This section shows the detailed information about the Pfam family. You can see the definitions of many of the terms in this section in the glossary and a fuller explanation of the scoring system that we use in the scores section of the help pages.
|Author:||Bateman A, Sonnhammer ELL|
|Number in seed:||50|
|Number in full:||11034|
|Average length of the domain:||168.20 aa|
|Average identity of full alignment:||22 %|
|Average coverage of the sequence by the domain:||39.20 %|
|HMM build commands:||
build method: hmmbuild -o /dev/null HMM SEED
search method: hmmsearch -Z 26740544 -E 1000 --cpu 4 HMM pfamseq
|Family (HMM) version:||15|
|Download:||download the raw HMM for this family|
Weight segments by...
Change the size of the sunburst
selected sequences to HMM
a FASTA-format file
- 0 sequences
- 0 species
This visualisation provides a simple graphical representation of the distribution of this family across species. You can find the original interactive tree in the More....
This chart is a modified "sunburst" visualisation of the species tree for this family. It shows each node in the tree as a separate arc, arranged radially with the superkingdoms at the centre and the species arrayed around the outermost ring.
How the sunburst is generated
The tree is built by considering the taxonomic lineage of each sequence that has a match to this family. For each node in the resulting tree, we draw an arc in the sunburst. The radius of the arc, its distance from the root node at the centre of the sunburst, shows the taxonomic level ("superkingdom", "kingdom", etc). The length of the arc represents either the number of sequences represented at a given level, or the number of species that are found beneath the node in the tree. The weighting scheme can be changed using the sunburst controls.
In order to reduce the complexity of the representation, we reduce the number of taxonomic levels that we show. We consider only the following eight major taxonomic levels:
Colouring and labels
Segments of the tree are coloured approximately according to their superkingdom. For example, archeal branches are coloured with shades of orange, eukaryotes in shades of purple, etc. The colour assignments are shown under the sunburst controls. Where space allows, the name of the taxonomic level will be written on the arc itself.
As you move your mouse across the sunburst, the current node will be highlighted. In the top section of the controls panel we show a summary of the lineage of the currently highlighed node. If you pause over an arc, a tooltip will be shown, giving the name of the taxonomic level in the title and a summary of the number of sequences and species below that node in the tree.
Anomalies in the taxonomy tree
There are some situations that the sunburst tree cannot easily handle and for which we have work-arounds in place.
Missing taxonomic levels
Some species in the taxonomic tree may not have one or more of the main eight levels that we display. For example, Bos taurus is not assigned an order in the NCBI taxonomic tree. In such cases we mark the omitted level with, for example, "No order", in both the tooltip and the lineage summary.
Unmapped species names
The tree is built by looking at each sequence in the full alignment for the family. We take the name of the species given by UniProt and try to map that to the full taxonomic tree from NCBI. In some cases, the name chosen by UniProt does not map to any node in the NCBI tree, perhaps because the chosen name is listed as a synonym or a misspelling in the NCBI taxonomy.
So that these nodes are not simply omitted from the sunburst tree, we group them together in a separate branch (or segment of the sunburst tree). Since we cannot determine the lineage for these unmapped species, we show all levels between the superkingdom and the species as "uncategorised".
Since we reduce the species tree to only the eight main taxonomic levels, sequences that are mapped to the sub-species level in the tree would not normally be shown. Rather than leave out these species, we map them instead to their parent species. So, for example, for sequences belonging to one of the Vibrio cholerae sub-species in the NCBI taxonomy, we show them instead as belonging to the species Vibrio cholerae.
Too many species/sequences
For large species trees, you may see blank regions in the outer layers of the sunburst. These occur when there are large numbers of arcs to be drawn in a small space. If an arc is less than approximately one pixel wide, it will not be drawn and the space will be left blank. You may still be able to get some information about the species in that region by moving your mouse across the area, but since each arc will be very small, it will be difficult to accurately locate a particular species.
The tree shows the occurrence of this domain across different species. More...
We show the species tree in one of two ways. For smaller trees we try to show an interactive representation, which allows you to select specific nodes in the tree and view them as an alignment or as a set of Pfam domain graphics.
Unfortunately we have found that there are problems viewing the interactive tree when the it becomes larger than a certain limit. Furthermore, we have found that Internet Explorer can become unresponsive when viewing some trees, regardless of their size. We therefore show a text representation of the species tree when the size is above a certain limit or if you are using Internet Explorer to view the site.
If you are using IE you can still load the interactive tree by clicking the "Generate interactive tree" button, but please be aware of the potential problems that the interactive species tree can cause.
For all of the domain matches in a full alignment, we count the number that are found on all sequences in the alignment. This total is shown in the purple box.
We also count the number of unique sequences on which each domain is found, which is shown in green. Note that a domain may appear multiple times on the same sequence, leading to the difference between these two numbers.
Finally, we group sequences from the same organism according to the NCBI code that is assigned by UniProt, allowing us to count the number of distinct sequences on which the domain is found. This value is shown in the pink boxes.
We use the NCBI species tree to group organisms according to their taxonomy and this forms the structure of the displayed tree. Note that in some cases the trees are too large (have too many nodes) to allow us to build an interactive tree, but in most cases you can still view the tree in a plain text, non-interactive representation. Those species which are represented in the seed alignment for this domain are highlighted.
You can use the tree controls to manipulate how the interactive tree is displayed:
- show/hide the summary boxes
- highlight species that are represented in the seed alignment
- expand/collapse the tree or expand it to a given depth
- select a sub-tree or a set of species within the tree and view them graphically or as an alignment
- save a plain text representation of the tree
Please note: for large trees this can take some time. While the tree is loading, you can safely switch away from this tab but if you browse away from the family page entirely, the tree will not be loaded.
There are 7 interactions for this family. More...
We determine these interactions using iPfam, which considers the interactions between residues in three-dimensional protein structures and maps those interactions back to Pfam families. You can find more information about the iPfam algorithm in the journal article that accompanies the website.
For those sequences which have a structure in the Protein DataBank, we use the mapping between UniProt, PDB and Pfam coordinate systems from the PDBe group, to allow us to map Pfam domains onto UniProt sequences and three-dimensional protein structures. The table below shows the structures on which the Neur_chan_memb domain has been found. There are 202 instances of this domain found in the PDB. Note that there may be multiple copies of the domain in a single PDB structure, since many structures contain multiple copies of the same protein seqence.
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