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Curr Biol. 2005 Jun 7;15(11):1045-50.

Endocytosis function of a ligand-gated ion channel homolog in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Life Sciences South, Room 531, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Ligand-gated ion channels are transmembrane proteins that respond to a variety of transmitters, including acetylcholine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glycine, and glutamate [1 and 2]. These proteins play key roles in neurotransmission and are typically found in the nervous system and at neuromuscular junctions [3]. Recently, acetylcholine receptor family members also have been found in nonneuronal cells, including macrophages [4], keratinocytes [5], bronchial epithelial cells [5], and endothelial cells of arteries [6]. The function of these channels in nonneuronal cells in mammals remains to be elucidated, though it has been shown that the acetylcholine receptor alpha7 subunit is required for acetylcholine-mediated inhibition of tumor necrosis factor release by activated macrophages [4]. We show that cup-4, a gene required for efficient endocytosis of fluids by C. elegans coelomocytes, encodes a protein that is homologous to ligand-gated ion channels, with the highest degree of similarity to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Worms lacking CUP-4 have reduced phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate levels at the plasma membrane, suggesting that CUP-4 regulates endocytosis through modulation of phospholipase C activity.

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