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J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 30;288(35):25428-39. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.482059. Epub 2013 Jul 11.

Positional scanning mutagenesis of α-conotoxin PeIA identifies critical residues that confer potency and selectivity for α6/α3β2β3 and α3β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA.


The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtype α6β2* (the asterisk denotes the possible presence of additional subunits) has been identified as an important molecular target for the pharmacotherapy of Parkinson disease and nicotine dependence. The α6 subunit is closely related to the α3 subunit, and this presents a problem in designing ligands that discriminate between α6β2* and α3β2* nAChRs. We used positional scanning mutagenesis of α-conotoxin PeIA, which targets both α6β2* and α3β2*, in combination with mutagenesis of the α6 and α3 subunits, to gain molecular insights into the interaction of PeIA with heterologously expressed α6/α3β2β3 and α3β2 receptors. Mutagenesis of PeIA revealed that Asn(11) was located in an important position that interacts with the α6 and α3 subunits. Substitution of Asn(11) with a positively charged amino acid essentially abolished the activity of PeIA for α3β2 but not for α6/α3β2β3 receptors. These results were used to synthesize a PeIA analog that was >15,000-fold more potent on α6/α3β2β3 than α3β2 receptors. Analogs with an N11R substitution were then used to show a critical interaction between the 11th position of PeIA and Glu(152) of the α6 subunit and Lys(152) of the α3 subunit. The results of these studies provide molecular insights into designing ligands that selectively target α6β2* nAChRs.


Electrophysiology; Neurotoxin; Neurotransmitter Receptors; Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors; Oocyte; alpha-Conotoxin; alpha3beta2; alpha6beta2

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