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J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 1999 Jan-Jul;19(1-4):493-507.

Blue native PAGE as a useful method for the analysis of the assembly of distinct combinations of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits.

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Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Department of Pharmacology, Germany.


Oligomerization of complete and incomplete combinations of rat muscle-type nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits in Xenopus oocytes was studied by blue native PAGE and compared with acetylcholine-activated current in these cells. The rank order of expression level judged by current was alpha 1 beta 1 gamma delta >> alpha 1 beta 1 gamma > alpha 1 beta 1 delta > alpha 1 gamma delta >> alpha 1 delta >> alpha 1 gamma. alpha 1 and alpha 1 beta 1 were not functional. Protein complexes incorporating a heptahistidyl-tagged alpha 1 subunit were chromatographically purified from digitonin extracts of oocytes and resolved by blue native PAGE. In the absence of any co-expressed nAChR subunit, the majority of alpha 1 formed aggregates. Co-expression of beta 1 had no effect on alpha 1 aggregation, whereas both gamma and delta diminished alpha 1 aggregation in favor of discrete oligomers: alpha 1 formed tetramers together with gamma and dimers, trimers, and tetramers together with delta. When alpha 1 gamma was complemented with beta 1 to form a functional alpha 1 beta 1 gamma receptor, a small amount of a pentamer was found besides a prominent alpha 1-His7 beta 1 gamma trimer. Expression of the functional alpha 1 beta 1 delta receptor yielded marked amounts of a pentamer besides dimers and trimers. These results are discussed in terms of the assembly model of Green and Claudio (Cell 74, 57-69, 1994), substantiating that blue native PAGE is suited for the investigation of ion channel assembly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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