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Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;82(2):236-45. doi: 10.1124/mol.112.077578. Epub 2012 May 7.

Comparison of the activation kinetics of the M3 acetylcholine receptor and a constitutively active mutant receptor in living cells.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Wuerzburg, Versbacher Strasse 9, Wuerzburg, Germany.


Activation of G-protein-coupled receptors is the first step of the signaling cascade triggered by binding of an agonist. Here we compare the activation kinetics of the G(q)-coupled M(3) acetylcholine receptor (M(3)-AChR) with that of a constitutively active mutant receptor (M(3)-AChR-N514Y) using M(3)-AChR constructs that report receptor activation by changes in the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) signal. We observed a leftward shift in the concentration-dependent FRET response for acetylcholine and carbachol with M(3)-AChR-N514Y. Consistent with this result, at submaximal agonist concentrations, the activation kinetics of M(3)-AChR-N514Y were significantly faster, whereas at maximal agonist concentrations the kinetics of receptor activation were identical. Receptor deactivation was significantly faster with carbachol than with acetylcholine and was significantly delayed by the N514Y mutation. Receptor-G-protein interaction was measured by FRET between M(3)-AChR-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) and cyan fluorescent protein (CFP)-Gγ(2). Agonist-induced receptor-G-protein coupling was of a time scale similar to that of receptor activation. As observed for receptor deactivation, receptor-G-protein dissociation was slower for acetylcholine than that for carbachol. Acetylcholine-stimulated increases in receptor-G-protein coupling of M(3)-AChR-N514Y reached only 12% of that of M(3)-AChR and thus cannot be kinetically analyzed. G-protein activation was measured using YFP-tagged Gα(q) and CFP-tagged Gγ(2). Activation of G(q) was significantly slower than receptor activation and indistinguishable for the two agonists. However, G(q) deactivation was significantly prolonged for acetylcholine compared with that for carbachol. Consistent with decreased agonist-stimulated coupling to G(q), agonist-stimulated G(q) activation by M(3)-AChR-N514Y was not detected. Taken together, these results indicate that the N514Y mutation produces constitutive activation of M(3)-AChR by decreasing the rate of receptor deactivation, while having minimal effect on receptor activation.

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