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The 5-HT3 receptor is a member of the Cys-loop family of ligand-gated ion channels. These receptors are located in both the peripheral and central nervous systems, where functional receptors are constructed from five subunits. These subunits may be the same (homopentameric 5-HT3A receptors) or different (heteropentameric receptors, usually comprising of 5-HT3A and 5-HT3B receptor subunits), with the latter having a number of distinct properties. The 5-HT3 receptor binding site is comprised of six loops from two adjacent subunits, and critical ligand binding amino acids in these loops have been largely identified. There are a range of selective agonists and antagonists for these receptors and the pharmacophore is reasonably well understood. There are also a wide range of compounds that can modulate receptor activity. Studies have suggested many diverse potential disease targets that might be amenable to alleviation by 5-HT3 receptor selective compounds but to date only two applications have been fully realised in the clinic: the treatment of emesis and irritable-bowel syndrome.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1QW, UK.
Publication date: October 1, 2006
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