Impact of human D398N single nucleotide polymorphism on intracellular calcium response mediated by α3β4α5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

Neuropharmacology. 2012 Nov;63(6):1002-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.07.022. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


The human CHRNA5 D398N polymorphism (rs16969968) causes an aspartic acid to asparagine change in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) α5 subunit gene. The N398 variant of CHRNA5 is linked to increased risk for nicotine dependence. In this study, we explored the effect of the CHRNA5 D398N polymorphism on the properties of human α3β4* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells. Addition of either D398 or N398 variant of α5 subunit in the α3β4* receptor did not affect total [(125)I]-epibatidine binding or surface expression of the receptor. However, addition of α5(D398) into α3β4* receptor decreased the maximal response to agonist without significantly affecting EC(50) in aequorin intracellular calcium assay. α3β4α5(N398) nAChRs showed further decreased maximal response. The differences in agonist efficacy between the receptor subtypes were found to be dependent upon the concentration of external calcium but independent of external sodium. Moreover, activation of α3β4α5 nAChRs led to significantly greater intracellular calcium release from IP(3) stores relative to α3β4 nAChRs although no effect of the α5 polymorphism was observed. Finally, inclusion of the α5 variant caused a small shift to the left in IC(50) for some of the antagonists tested, depending upon α5 variant but did not affect sensitivity of α3β4* receptors to desensitization in response to incubation with nicotine. In conclusion, addition of either variant of α5 into an α3β4α5 receptor similarly effects receptor pharmacology and function. However, the N398 variant exhibits a reduced response to agonists when extracellular calcium is high and it may lead to distinct downstream cellular signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Aequorin / analysis
  • Algorithms
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Permeability
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Varenicline


  • Benzazepines
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotinic Antagonists
  • Quinoxalines
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • alpha3beta4alpha5 receptor, human
  • nicotinic receptor alpha3beta4
  • Aequorin
  • Nicotine
  • Acetylcholine
  • Calcium
  • Varenicline