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Mol Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;72(1):8-17. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Characterization of the novel human serotonin receptor subunits 5-HT3C,5-HT3D, and 5-HT3E.

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Department of Human Molecular Genetics, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 366, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Within the family of serotonin receptors, the 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 (5-HT(3)) receptor is the only ligand-gated ion channel. It is composed of five subunits, of which the 5-HT(3A) and 5-HT(3B) subunits are best characterized. Several studies, however, have reported on the functional diversity of native 5-HT(3) receptors, which cannot solely be explained on the basis of the 5-HT(3A) and 5-HT(3B) subunits. After our discovery of further putative 5-HT(3) serotonin receptor-encoding genes, HTR3C, HTR3D, and HTR3E, we investigated whether these novel candidates and the isoform 5-HT(3Ea) are able to form functional 5-HT(3) receptor complexes. Using immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation studies of heterologously expressed proteins, we found that each of the respective candidates coassembles with 5-HT(3A). To investigate whether the novel subunits modulate 5-HT(3) receptor function, we performed radioligand-binding assays and calcium-influx studies in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. Our experiments revealed that the 5-HT(3C),5-HT(3D), 5-HT(3E), and 5-HT(3Ea) subunits alone cannot form functional receptors. Coexpression with 5-HT(3A), however, results in the formation of functional heteromeric complexes with different serotonin efficacies. Potencies of two agonists and antagonists were nearly identical with respect to homomeric 5-HT(3A) and heteromeric complexes. However, 5-HT showed increased efficacy with respect to 5-HT(3A/D) and 5-HT(3A/E) receptors, which is consistent with the increased surface expression compared with 5-HT(3A) receptors. In contrast, 5-HT(3A/C) and 5-HT(3A/Ea) receptors exhibited decreased 5-HT efficacy. These data show for the first time that the novel 5-HT(3) subunits are able to form heteromeric 5-HT(3) receptors, which exhibit quantitatively different functional properties compared with homomeric 5-HT(3A) receptors.

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