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Master in Life Science, ENS
Bio-M2_E25 | Neuropharmacology
Year and Semester : M2 | S1
Duration : 1 week + 2h of written exam the following week Jan. 10-14th, 2022
First and last day of class : January 3rd-7th, 2022
Maximum class size : 10-12 students


Lætitia Mony, Biology Department, ENS




Pharmacology | Neuronal Receptors and Transporters | Structure-function relationship | Allosteric regulation | Molecular mechanisms

Course prerequisites

• Basic knowledge in chemistry and protein biochemistry : pH and pKa, amino acid properties, protein structure, protein/ligand interactions (H-bonds, hydrophobic interactions…)
• Basic knowledge in pharmacology : what is an agonist/antagonist, notions of competitive and non-competitive inhibition

Course objectives and description

This module is about neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, which are key actors of neuronal communication. The recent boom in membrane protein structures sheds a new light on our understanding of the function and the regulation mechanisms of these proteins. It also provides an unprecedented structural and conceptual framework to discover and develop new molecules of pharmacological interest. This module will tackle the molecular and structural organization, as well as the operating mechanisms of the main classes of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters. We will present their activation principles, as well as their interactions with ligands. Emphasis will be put on the allosteric mechanisms and subsequent conformational dynamics. We will also show how malfunction of these proteins can be at the origin of pathologies, making them targets of therapeutic interest. Finally, using concrete cases, this module will introduce students to the development process of new molecules of neurological and psychiatric interest.


• Paper analysis and oral presentation at the end of the module. Students will form groups of three people and choose a paper to analyze among a predefined list. They will have the week of the module, including a free afternoon to analyze it. Paper presentation will take place the afternoon of Friday Jan. 7th
• Written exam (2 hours) the week after the module. The exact date is set based on student availability.

Course material

Ppt presentations of the speakers uploaded on the cloud.

Suggested readings in relation with the module content


Protein structure and non-covalent interactions
• Proteins : Structures and molecular properties, Thomas E. Creighton Second edition (1992) W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd
Ion channels
• Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes, Bertil Hille 3rd edition (2001) Sinauer Associates Inc.
• Ion channels and Disease, Frances Ashcroft (2000), Academic Press

Protein visualization softwares
Biovia Discovery Studio Visualiser, free but you need to register. Very easy to use. This is the software is prefer. Tutorial
Pymol The most used software in the research community. Can be a bit difficult to handle at the beginning. Tutorial