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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 29;280(30):28053-60. Epub 2005 Jun 2.

RIC-3 affects properties and quantity of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors via a mechanism that does not require the coiled-coil domains.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


Members of the RIC-3 gene family are effectors of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) expression in vertebrates and invertebrates. In Caenorhabditis elegans RIC-3 is needed for functional expression of multiple nAChRs, including the DEG-3/DES-2 nAChR. Effects of RIC-3 on DEG-3/DES-2 functional expression are found in vivo and following heterologous expression in Xenopus leavis oocytes. We now show that in X. leavis oocytes RIC-3 also affects the kinetics and agonist affinity properties of the DEG-3/DES-2 receptor. Because these effects are mimicked by increasing the ratio of DEG-3 subunits within DEG-3/DES-2 receptors, this suggests that RIC-3 may preferentially promote maturation of DEG-3-rich receptors. Indeed, effects of RIC-3 on functional expression of DEG-3/DES-2 positively correlate with the DEG-3 to DES-2 ratio. All RIC-3 family members have two transmembrane domains followed by one or two coiled-coil domains. Here we show that the effects of RIC-3 on functional expression and on receptor properties are mediated by the transmembrane domains and do not require the coiled-coil domains. In agreement with this, mammals express a RIC-3 transcript lacking the coiled-coil domain that is capable of promoting DEG-3/DES-2 functional expression. Last, we show that RIC-3 affects DEG-3 quantity, suggesting stabilization of receptors or receptor intermediates by RIC-3. Together our results suggest that subunit-specific interactions of RIC-3 with nAChR subunits, mediated by the transmembrane domains, are sufficient for the effects of RIC-3 on nAChR quantity and quality.

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