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Biol Pharm Bull. 2018;41(1):65-72. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b17-00576.

Molecular Determinants of α3β4 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Inhibition by Triterpenoids.

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Department of Biotechnology, Chonnam National University.
College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University.


In a previous work, we reported the regulatory role of the triterpenoids on 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)3A receptors activity in Xenopus laevis oocytes (Eur. J. Pharmacol., 615, 2009, Lee et al.). In the present report, we studied the modulation of triterpenoids on the activity of the human nicotinic acetylcholine receptor type α3β4. Two-electrode voltage clamp experiments were used to test acetylcholine mediated inward current (IACh). Treatment with triterpenoids (dehydroeburicoic acid, 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C and pachymic acid) inhibited IACh in a concentration dependent and reversible manner. The IC50 values for pachymic acid, dehydroeburicoic acid, and 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C were 14.9, 37.7, and 20.9 µM, respectively. The inhibitory regulation of IACh by each triterpenoid showed in a non-competitive manner on the activity of α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. These results show that triterpenoids (pachymic acid, dehydroeburicoic acid, 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C) can be used as agents to modulate the activity of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor type α3β4. Furthermore, molecular docking studies of 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C on α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in silico showed that this molecule interacted predominantly with residues at cavities in the α3 subunit and β4 subunit. This docking assays indicated four potential binding sites for this ligand in the extracellular region at sensor domain of α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In point mutagenesis of those whose alanine substitution, 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C potency decreased on W25A of α3 subunit or N109A of β4 subunit in both mutants. The double mutation of W25A of α3 subunit and N109A of β4 subunit was significantly attenuated inhibitory effects by 6α-hydroxypolyporenic acid C. All taken together, this study revealed that molecular basis of α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by triterpenoids and provides a novel potent interaction ligand.


docking assay; ligand-gated ion channel; triterpenoid; α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

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