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Biochemistry. 2004 Dec 28;43(51):16019-26.

Alpha-conotoxins ImI and ImII target distinct regions of the human alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and distinguish human nicotinic receptor subtypes.

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Department of Biology and Psychiatry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA.


The Conus peptides alpha-conotoxin ImI (alpha-ImI) and ImII (alpha-ImII) differ by only three of 11 residues in their primary sequences and yet are shown to inhibit the human alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) by targeting different sites. Mutations at both faces of the classical ligand binding site of the alpha7 nAChR strongly affect antagonism by alpha-ImI but not alpha-ImII. The effects of the mutations on alpha-ImI binding and functional antagonism are explained by computational docking of the NMR structure of alpha-ImI to a homology model of the ligand binding domain of the alpha7 nAChR. A distinct binding site for alpha-ImII is further demonstrated by its weakened antagonism for a chimeric receptor in which the membrane-spanning domains and intervening linkers of the alpha7 nAChR are replaced with the corresponding sequence from the serotonin type-3 receptor (5HT(3)). The two toxins also discriminate between different subtypes of human nicotinic receptors; alpha-ImII most strongly blocks the human alpha7 and alpha1beta1deltaepsilon receptor subtypes, while alpha-ImI most potently blocks the human alpha3beta2 subtype. Collectively, the data show that while alpha-ImI targets the classical competitive ligand binding site in a subtype selective manner, alpha-ImII is a probe of a novel inhibitory site in homomeric alpha7 nAChRs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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