Background and purpose: alpha4 and beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor subunits expressed heterologously in Xenopus oocytes assemble into a mixed population of (alpha4)(2)(beta2)(3) and (alpha4)(3)(beta2)(2) receptors. In order to express these receptors separately in heterologous systems, we have engineered pentameric concatenated (alpha4)(2)(beta2)(3) and (alpha4)(3)(beta2)(2) receptors.
Experimental approach: alpha4 and beta2 subunits were concatenated by synthetic linkers into pentameric constructs to produce either (alpha4)(2)(beta2)(3) or (alpha4)(3)(beta2)(2) receptors. Using two-electrode voltage-clamp techniques, we examined the ability of the concatenated constructs to produce functional expression in Xenopus oocytes. Functional constructs were further characterized in respect to agonists, competitive antagonists, Ca2+ permeability, sensitivity to modulation by Zn2+ and sensitivity to up-regulation by chaperone protein 14-3-3.
Key results: We found that pentameric concatamers with a subunit arrangement of beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_beta2 or beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_alpha4 were stable and functional in Xenopus oocytes. By comparison, when alpha4 and beta2 were concatenated with a subunit order of beta2_beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4 or beta2_alpha4_alpha4_beta2_alpha4, functional expression in Xenopus oocytes was very low, even though the proteins were synthesized and stable. Both beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_beta2 and beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_alpha4 concatamers recapitulated the ACh concentration response curve, the sensitivity to Zn2+ modulation, Ca2+ permeability and the sensitivity to up-regulation by chaperone protein 14-3-3 of the corresponding non-linked (alpha4)(2)(beta2)(3) and (alpha4)(3)(beta2)(2) receptors respectively. Using these concatamers, we found that most alpha4beta2-preferring compounds studied, including A85380, 5I-A85380, cytisine, epibatidine, TC2559 and dihydro-beta-erythroidine, demonstrate stoichiometry-specific potencies and efficacies.
Conclusions and implications: We concluded that the alpha4beta2 nicotinic ACh receptors produced with beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_beta2 or beta2_alpha4_beta2_alpha4_alpha4 pentameric constructs are valid models of non-linked (alpha4)(2)(beta2)(3) and (alpha4)(3)(beta2)(2) receptors respectively.