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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 22;280(29):27062-8. Epub 2005 May 31.

Dual role of the RIC-3 protein in trafficking of serotonin and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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  • 1Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante, Universidad Miguel Hernández-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 18, 03550 Sant Joan d'Alacant, Alicante, Spain.


The ric-3 gene is required for maturation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in Caenorhabditis elegans. The human homolog of RIC-3, hRIC-3, enhances expression of alpha7 nicotinic receptors in Xenopus laevis oocytes, whereas it totally abolishes expression of alpha4beta2 nicotinic and 5-HT3 serotonergic receptors. Both the N-terminal region of hRIC-3, which contains two transmembrane segments, and the C-terminal region are needed for these differential effects. hRIC-3 inhibits receptor expression by hindering export of mature receptors to the cell membrane. By using chimeric proteins made of alpha7 and 5-HT3 receptors, we have shown that the presence of an extracellular isoleucine close to the first transmembrane receptor fragment is responsible for the transport arrest induced by hRIC-3. Enhancement of alpha7 receptor expression occurs, at least, at two levels: by increasing the number of mature receptors and facilitating its transport to the membrane. Certain amino acids of a putative amphipathic helix present at the large cytoplasmic region of the alpha7 subunit are required for these actions. Therefore, hRIC-3 can act as a specific regulator of receptor expression at different levels.

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