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J Recept Res. 1993;13(5):863-79.

Myasthenia gravis: effect on antibody binding of conservative substitutions of amino acid residues forming the main immunogenic region of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

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Department of Biochemistry, College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108.


In Myasthenia Gravis most anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibodies are against a highly conserved area of the AChR alpha-subunit called the Main Immunogenic Region (MIR). Amino acid residues critical for MIR formation have been located within the sequence alpha 67-76. In the present study, binding of anti-AChR monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to synthetic peptide analogues of the sequence alpha 67-76 of human and Torpedo AChRs containing conservative single-residue substitutions identified the amino acid residues most important to the antigenicity of the MIR sequence, and offered clues to its tridimensional structure. Conservative substitutions of residues Asn68 and Asp71 greatly diminished mAb binding, identifying them as critical contact residues for anti-MIR mAbs. Substitutions at Asp70 and Tyr72 moderately affected binding. Cross-reactive mAbs originally raised against Electrophorus AChR bound single residue-substituted synthetic peptides in a manner consistent with the possibility that Electrophorus AChR may have a glutamic acid residue at position alpha 70 or alpha 71. Substitutions at residues Asp/Ala70 and Val/Ile70 between human and Torpedo alpha-subunits may be size-compensating, suggesting these amino acids in the native AChR may be in closer proximity than proposed in previous models of the MIR.

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