Assessment of the functionality and stability of detergent purified nAChR from Torpedo using lipidic matrixes and macroscopic electrophysiology

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Jan;1858(1):47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2015.10.002. Epub 2015 Oct 8.


In our previous study we examined the functionality and stability of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)-detergent complexes (nAChR-DCs) from affinity-purified Torpedo californica (Tc) using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) in Lipidic Cubic Phase (LCP) and planar lipid bilayer (PLB) recordings for phospholipid and cholesterol like detergents. In the present study we enhanced the functional characterization of nAChR-DCs by recording macroscopic ion channel currents in Xenopus oocytes using the two electrode voltage clamp (TEVC). The use of TEVC allows for the recording of macroscopic currents elicited by agonist activation of nAChR-DCs that assemble in the oocyte plasma membrane. Furthermore, we examined the stability of nAChR-DCs, which is obligatory for the nAChR crystallization, using a 30 day FRAP assay in LCP for each detergent. The present results indicate a marked difference in the fractional fluorescence recovery (ΔFFR) within the same detergent family during the 30 day period assayed. Within the cholesterol analog family, sodium cholate and CHAPSO displayed a minimum ΔFFR and a mobile fraction (MF) over 80%. In contrast, CHAPS and BigCHAP showed a marked decay in both the mobile fraction and diffusion coefficient. nAChR-DCs containing phospholipid analog detergents with an alkylphosphocholine (FC) and lysofoscholine (LFC) of 16 carbon chains (FC-16, LFC-16) were more effective in maintaining a mobile fraction of over 80% compared to their counterparts with shorter acyl chain (C12, C14). The significant differences in macroscopic current amplitudes, activation and desensitization rates among the different nAChR-DCs evaluated in the present study allow to dissect which detergent preserves both, agonist activation and ion channel function. Functionality assays using TEVC demonstrated that LFC16, LFC14, and cholate were the most effective detergents in preserving macroscopic ion channel function, however, the nAChR-cholate complex display a significant delay in the ACh-induce channel activation. In summary, these results suggest that the physical properties of the lipid analog detergents (headgroup and acyl chain length) are the most effective in maintaining both the stability and functionality of the nAChR in the detergent solubilized complex.

Keywords: Detergents; Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching; Lipidic Cubic Phase; NAChR; Planar lipid bilayer; Two-electrode voltage clamp.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cholesterol / chemistry
  • Cholic Acids / chemistry
  • Crystallization
  • Detergents / chemistry*
  • Detergents / classification
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Microinjections
  • Oocytes / chemistry
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Stability
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / isolation & purification
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology
  • Sodium Cholate / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thermodynamics
  • Torpedo / metabolism*
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism


  • Cholic Acids
  • Detergents
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phospholipids
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • chapso
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium Cholate