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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Mar;20(5):1419-27. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E08-08-0851. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

The conserved RIC-3 coiled-coil domain mediates receptor-specific interactions with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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


RIC-3 belongs to a conserved family of proteins influencing nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) maturation. RIC-3 proteins are integral membrane proteins residing in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and containing a C-terminal coiled-coil domain (CC-I). Conservation of CC-I in all RIC-3 family members indicates its importance; however, previous studies could not show its function. To examine the role of CC-I, we studied effects of its deletion on Caenorhabditis elegans nAChRs in vivo. Presence of CC-I promoted maturation of particular nAChRs expressed in body-wall muscle, whereas it was not required for other nAChR subtypes expressed in neurons or pharyngeal muscles. This effect is receptor-specific, because it could be reproduced after heterologous expression. Consistently, coimmunoprecipitation analysis showed that CC-I enhances the interaction of RIC-3 with a nAChR that requires CC-I in vivo; thus CC-I appears to enhance affinity of RIC-3 to specific nAChRs. However, we found that this function of CC-I is redundant with functions of sequences downstream to CC-I, potentially a second coiled-coil. Alternative splicing in both vertebrates and invertebrates generates RIC-3 transcripts that lack the entire C-terminus, or only CC-I. Thus, our results suggest that RIC-3 alternative splicing enables subtype specific regulation of nAChR maturation.

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