Assessment of mechanistic proposals for the binding of agonists to cardiac muscarinic receptors

Biochemistry. 1986 Nov 4;25(22):6995-7008. doi: 10.1021/bi00370a037.


N-[3H]Methylscopolamine has been used to characterize muscarinic receptors in crude homogenates prepared from hearts of Syrian golden hamsters. The Hill coefficient is one for specific binding of the radioligand itself and for its inhibition by muscarinic antagonists; markedly lower values are obtained for its inhibition by muscarinic agonists. The binding patterns of agonists have been analyzed in terms of a mixture of sites differing in affinity for the drug and reveal the following. All agonists discern at least two classes of receptor in atrial and ventricular homogenates. The number of classes and the relative size of each differ for different agonists in the same region and for the same agonist in different regions. Atrial and ventricular affinities are in good agreement for some agonists but differ for others. Guanylyl imidodiphosphate (GMP-PNP) is without effect on the specific binding of the radioligand but alters the binding of carbachol via an apparent redistribution of receptors from one class to another; the apparent affinity at either class remains unchanged. Carbachol reveals two classes of sites in ventricular preparations, and the nucleotide mediates an interconversion from higher to lower affinity; three classes are revealed in atrial preparations, and the nucleotide eliminates the sites of highest affinity with a concomitant increase in the number of sites of lowest affinity. Taken together, the data are incompatible with the notion of different, noninterconverting sites; rather, there appear to be several possible states of affinity such that the equilibrium distribution of receptors among the various states is determined by the tissue, by the agonist, and by neurohumoral modulators such as guanylyl nucleotides. The effects of agonists and GMP-PNP cannot be rationalized in terms of a ternary complex model in which the low Hill coefficients arise from a spontaneous equilibrium between receptor (R) and G protein (G) and in which agonists bind preferentially to the RG complex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Guanylyl Imidodiphosphate / pharmacology
  • Kinetics
  • Mesocricetus
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • N-Methylscopolamine
  • Parasympathomimetics / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism*
  • Scopolamine Derivatives / metabolism*


  • Parasympathomimetics
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Scopolamine Derivatives
  • Guanylyl Imidodiphosphate
  • N-Methylscopolamine