Effects of lipid-analog detergent solubilization on the functionality and lipidic cubic phase mobility of the Torpedo californica nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

J Membr Biol. 2011 Oct;243(1-3):47-58. doi: 10.1007/s00232-011-9392-4. Epub 2011 Sep 16.


Over the past three decades, the Torpedo californica nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) has been one of the most extensively studied membrane protein systems. However, the effects of detergent solubilization on nAChR stability and function are poorly understood. The use of lipid-analog detergents for nAChR solubilization has been shown to preserve receptor stability and functionality. The present study used lipid-analog detergents from phospholipid-analog and cholesterol-analog detergent families for solubilization and affinity purification of the receptor and probed nAChR ion channel function using planar lipid bilayers (PLBs) and stability using analytical size exclusion chromatography (A-SEC) in the detergent-solubilized state. We also examined receptor mobility on the lipidic cubic phase (LCP) by measuring the nAChR mobile fraction and diffusion coefficient through fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments using lipid-analog and non-lipid-analog detergents. Our results show that it is possible to isolate stable and functional nAChRs using lipid-analog detergents, with characteristic ion channel currents in PLBs and minimal aggregation as observed in A-SEC. Furthermore, fractional mobility and diffusion coefficient values observed in FRAP experiments were similar to the values observed for these parameters in the recently LCP-crystallized β(2)-adrenergic receptor. The overall results show that phospholipid-analog detergents with 16 carbon acyl-chains support nAChR stability, functionality and LCP mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / chemistry
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Detergents / chemistry*
  • Detergents / metabolism
  • Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Protein Stability
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / isolation & purification
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Solubility
  • Torpedo / metabolism


  • Detergents
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phospholipids
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Cholesterol