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J Neurosci. 2000 Apr 15;20(8):2783-91.

UB-165: a novel nicotinic agonist with subtype selectivity implicates the alpha4beta2* subtype in the modulation of dopamine release from rat striatal synaptosomes.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom.


Presynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on striatal synaptosomes stimulate dopamine release. Partial inhibition by the alpha3beta2-selective alpha-conotoxin-MII indicates heterogeneity of presynaptic nAChRs on dopamine terminals. We have used this alpha-conotoxin and UB-165, a novel hybrid of epibatidine and anatoxin-a, to address the hypothesis that the alpha-conotoxin-MII-insensitive subtype is composed of alpha4 and beta2 subunits. UB-165 shows intermediate potency, compared with the parent molecules, at alpha4beta2* and alpha3-containing binding sites, and resembles epibatidine in its high discrimination of these sites over alpha7-type and muscle binding sites. (+/-)-Epibatidine, (+/-)-anatoxin-a, and (+/-)-UB-165 stimulated [(3)H]-dopamine release from striatal synaptosomes with EC(50) values of 2.4, 134, and 88 nM, and relative efficacies of 1:0.4:0.2, respectively. alpha-Conotoxin-MII inhibited release evoked by these agonists by 48, 56, and 88%, respectively, suggesting that (+/-)-UB-165 is a very poor agonist at the alpha-conotoxin-MII-insensitive nAChR subtype. In assays of (86)Rb(+) efflux from thalamic synaptosomes, a model of an alpha4beta2* nAChR response, (+/-)-UB-165 was a very weak partial agonist; the low efficacy of (+/-)-UB-165 at alpha4beta2 nAChR was confirmed in Xenopus oocytes expressing various combinations of human nAChR subunits. In contrast, (+/-)-UB-165 and (+/-)-anatoxin-a were similarly efficacious and similarly sensitive to alpha-conotoxin-MII in increasing intracellular Ca(2+) in SH-SY5Y cells, a functional assay for native alpha3-containing nAChR. These data support the involvement of alpha4beta2* nAChR in the presynaptic modulation of striatal dopamine release and illustrate the utility of exploiting a novel partial agonist, together with a selective antagonist, to dissect the functional roles of nAChR subtypes in the brain.

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