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J Biol Chem. 2013 Dec 13;288(50):35997-6006. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.498618. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

Two distinct allosteric binding sites at α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors revealed by NS206 and NS9283 give unique insights to binding activity-associated linkage at Cys-loop receptors.

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From NeuroSearch A/S, Pederstrupvej 93, 2750 Ballerup, Denmark.


Positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors have the potential to improve cognitive function and alleviate pain. However, only a few selective PAMs of α4β2 receptors have been described limiting both pharmacological understanding and drug-discovery efforts. Here, we describe a novel selective PAM of α4β2 receptors, NS206, and compare with a previously reported PAM, NS9283. Using two-electrode voltage-clamp electrophysiology in Xenopus laevis oocytes, NS206 was observed to positively modulate acetylcholine (ACh)-evoked currents at both known α4β2 stoichiometries (2α:3β and 3α:2β). In the presence of NS206, peak current amplitudes surpassed those of maximal efficacious ACh stimulations (Emax(ACh)) with no or limited effects at potencies and current waveforms (as inspected visually). This pharmacological action contrasted with that of NS9283, which only modulated the 3α:2β receptor and acted by left shifting the ACh concentration-response relationship. Interestingly, the two modulators can act simultaneously in an additive manner at 3α:2β receptors, which results in current levels exceeding Emax(ACh) and a left-shifted ACh concentration-response relationship. Through use of chimeric and point-mutated receptors, the binding site of NS206 was linked to the α4-subunit transmembrane domain, whereas binding of NS9283 was shown to be associated with the αα-interface in 3α:2β receptors. Collectively, these data demonstrate the existence of two distinct modulatory sites in α4β2 receptors with unique pharmacological attributes that can act additively. Several allosteric sites have been identified within the family of Cys-loop receptors and with the present data, a detailed picture of allosteric modulatory mechanisms of these important receptors is emerging.


Allosteric; Cys-loop Receptors; Drug Discovery; Electrophysiology; Modulation; Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors; Xenopus

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