Cloning and sequencing of the genes that encode the neuromuscular junction receptors revealed that embryonic muscle receptors result from the assembly of five subunits in the stoichiometry α2, α, γ, and δ, while adult receptors are made from α2, β, ε, and δ.15 Sequence homologies and low-stringency hybridization soon
led researchers to clone a series of genes CHIR-98014 mouse encoding for proteins that resemble those of the neuromuscular junction receptors, but displaying significant differences. To date, 12 genes encoding for α2 to α10 and β2 to β4 have been isolated in vertebrates and their chromosomic localization identified. Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical Following an international agreement, the nomenclature between α and β subunits was made according to specific sequences of these proteins, with a subunits showing the highest degree of homology with their muscle counterpart and the Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical presence of
two adjacent cysteines in the N-terminal extracellular domain.16 It is widely accepted that nAChRs result, as the muscle receptors, from the assembly of five subunits, each of which spans the membrane four times (Figure 1B).15,17,18 This basic structural feature is common to a series of ligand-gated channels, Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical which include the serotonin receptor 5-HT3, zinc-activated protein (ZAC), the glycine receptors, and the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors GABAA and GABAC. The large extracellular domain comprises the ligand-binding
site and the ionic pore lies in the center of the assembly. Each of the five subunits lines the pore by its second transmembrane domain. Despite the lack of a full crystal structure of the nAChRs, Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical it is believed that the natural ligand ACh or nicotine binds at the interface between two adjacent subunits in the extracellular domain. Thus, the contribution of two adjacent subunits to Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical the formation of the ligand-binding domain implies that both subunits will define the physiological and pharmacological properties of the resulting receptor. Although some subunits such as α7 can assemble in a homomeric manner, most receptors result from the heteromeric assembly of at least two subunits, for instance α4β2. In the case of heteromeric receptors, a further complexity can arise ADAMTS5 for triplet combinations, such as α4α6β2, etc. This gives rise to a wider diversity of the receptor function, which correlates with the pattern of expression of the different subunits. Binding of an agonist stabilizes the receptor in the active open state and causes cations to rapidly diffuse across the minute ionic pore. Significant differences in physiological properties, in terms of sensitivity to the agonist and time course of response, can be observed between different subtypes of nAChRs.