Molecular dissection of subunit interfaces in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

Steven M. Sine, Nina Bren, Polly A. Quiram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Ligand binding sites in the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor are generated by pairs of α and non-α subunits. The non-α subunits, γ, δ and ε, contribute significantly to overall affinity of agonists and antagonists, and confer selectivity of these ligands for the two binding sites. By constructing chimeras composed of segments of the various non-α subunits and determining ligand selectivity, we have identified four loops, well separated in the linear sequence, that contribute to the non-α portion of the binding site. Studies of point mutations in these loops and labeling of engineered cysteines show that the peptide backbones of each non-α subunit fold into similar basic scaffolds. Studies of mutations of the peptide antagonists α- conotoxin M1 and ImI reveal pairs of residues in the binding site and the toxin that stabilize the complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-105
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physiology Paris
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998


  • Curare
  • Molecular dissection
  • Subunit interfaces
  • α-conotoxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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