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Nature. 1983 Jul 14-20;304(5922):161-3.

Topographical rearrangement of acetylcholine receptors alters channel kinetics.


Plasma membranes are dynamic structures of proteins and lipids. Protein-protein or protein-lipid interactions within the membrane are believed to have important roles in many membrane functions, including ion transport, enzyme activity and signal reception. The acetylcholine (ACh) receptor-channel complex in skeletal muscle membrane is one of the best known integral membrane proteins. Its ion transport function is accessible to direct measurement at the single-channel level by the use of the 'giga-seal' patch recording technique. Here we used an in situ electrophoresis technique to rearrange the topography of pre-existing ACh receptor-channels in the muscle membrane, and measured the single-channel kinetics of ACh-activated channels in two different molecular environments within the membrane: those in the diffusely distributed region and those in the ACh receptor clusters induced by the applied field. We found that the channel kinetics are significantly prolonged in the ACh receptor cluster compared with the non-clustered region of the same cell. This result strongly supports the notion that the function of a membrane ionic channel depends on the local molecular environment.

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