The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes were characterized in the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) of wild-type and dystrophin-lacking mdx mice. The binding of Epibatidine and alphaBungarotoxin, ligands for alpha3- and alpha7-containing receptors, respectively, revealed, for each ligand, a single class of high-affinity binding sites, with similar affinity in both wild-type and mdx mice. The Epibatidine-labeled receptors were immunoprecipitated by antibodies against the alpha3, beta2, and beta4 subunits. Immunocytochemistry showed that the percentage of alpha3-, beta2-, and beta4- but not of alpha7-immunopositive postsynaptic specializations was significantly lower in mdx than in wild-type mouse SCG. These observations suggest that the mouse SCG contains nAChRs, stabilized by dystrophin, in which the alpha3 subunit is associated with the beta2 and/or beta4 subunits. Conversely, dystrophin is not involved in the stabilization of the alpha7-containing nAChRs, as the percentage of alpha7-immunopositive synapses is similar in both wild-type and mdx mouse SCG.
2002 Elsevier Science (USA).