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1. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to create an altered form of the chicken alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor subunit (alpha7x61) in which a leucine residue was inserted between residues Leu9' and Ser10' in transmembrane domain 2. The properties of alpha7x61 receptors are distinct from those of the wild-type receptor. 2. Oocytes expressing wild-type alpha7 receptors responded to 10 microM nicotine with rapid inward currents that desensitized with a time-constant of 710+/-409 ms (mean+/-s.e.mean, n=5). However in alpha7x61 receptors 10 microM nicotine resulted in slower onset inward currents that desensitized with a time-constant of 5684+/-3403 ms (mean+/-s.e.mean, n = 4). No significant difference in the apparent affinity of nicotine or acetylcholine between mutant and wild-type receptors was observed. Dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHbetaE) acted as an antagonist on both receptors. 3. Molecular modelling of the alpha7x61 receptor channel pore formed by a bundle of M2 alpha-helices suggested that three of the channel lining residues would be altered by the leucine insertion i.e.; Ser10 would be replaced by the leucine insertion, Val13' and Phe14' would be replaced, by Thr and Val, respectively. 4 When present in the LEV-1 nicotinic ACh receptor subunit from Caenorhabditis elegans the same alteration conferred resistance to levamisole anthelmintic drug. Levamisole blocked responses to nicotine of wild-type and alpha7x61 receptors. However, block was more dependent on membrane potential for the alpha7x61 receptors. 5. We conclude that the leucine insertion in transmembrane domain 2 has the unusual effect of slowing desensitization without altering apparent agonist affinity.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/sj.bjp.0701866

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Pharmacol

Publication Date

06/1998

Volume

124

Pages

747 - 755

Keywords

Acetylcholine, Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Anthelmintics, Base Sequence, Chickens, Dihydro-beta-Erythroidine, Female, In Vitro Techniques, Leucine, Levamisole, Membrane Potentials, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Mutation, Nicotine, Nicotinic Agonists, Oocytes, Protein Conformation, Receptors, Nicotinic, Xenopus laevis