The extracellular domain of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor isoforms formed by three α4 and two β2 subunits ((α4) 3(β2)2 nAChR) harbors two high-affinity “canonical” acetylcholine (ACh)-binding sites located in the two α4:β2 intersubunit interfaces and a low-affinity “noncanonical” AChbinding site located in the α4:α4 intersubunit interface. In this study, we used ACh, cytisine, and nicotine (which bind at both the α4:α4 and α4:β2 interfaces), TC-2559 (which binds at the α4:β2 but not at the α4:α4 interface), and 3-(2-chlorophenyl)-5- (5-methyl-1-(piperidin-4-yl)-1H-pyrrazol-4-yl)isoxazole (CMPI, which binds at the α4:α4 but not at the α4:β2 interface), to investigate the binding and gating properties of CMPI at the α4:α4 interface. We recorded whole-cell currents from Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing (α4)3(β2)2 nAChR in response to applications of these ligands, alone or in combination. The electrophysiological data were analyzed in the framework of a modified Monod–Wyman–Changeux allosteric activation model. We show that CMPI is a high-affinity, high-efficacy agonist at the α4:α4 binding site and that its weak direct activating effect is accounted for by its inability to productively interact with the α4:β2 sites. The data presented here enhance our understanding of the functional contributions of ligand binding at the α4:α4 subunit interface to (α4)3(β2)2 nAChRchannel gating. These findings support the potential use of α4:α4 specific ligands to increase the efficacy of the neurotransmitter ACh in conditions associated with decline in nAChRs activity in the brain.


This is an open access article licensed under the CC BY License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).



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