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Clin Chem. 1989 May;35(5):731-7.

Genes encoding neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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  • 1Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA 92138.


Four genes (alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 4, and beta 2), which encode proteins homologous to the Torpedo electric organ and vertebrate muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, have been identified by cloning rat brain cDNAs. Injection of transcripts derived from these cDNAs into Xenopus laevis oocytes results in the formation of three nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Two of these receptors, alpha 3/beta 2 and alpha 4/beta 2, have the characteristics of ganglionic nicotinic receptors. The third (alpha 2/beta 2) exhibits a previously undescribed pharmacology and thus represents a novel subtype that may be expressed in the brain. The wide distribution of alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 4, and beta 2 transcripts in the brain indicates that neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are a major neurotransmitter receptor system.

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