Molecular dissection of subunit interfaces in the acetylcholine receptor: identification of determinants of alpha-conotoxin M1 selectivity

Neuron. 1995 Jul;15(1):205-11. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(95)90077-2.


The acetylcholine receptor from vertebrate skeletal muscle is a pentamer of homologous subunits with composition alpha 2 beta gamma delta. Its two ligand binding sites, formed at alpha-gamma and alpha-delta interfaces, differ in their affinities for agonists and competitive antagonists, owing to different contributions of the gamma and delta subunits. To identify portions of the gamma and delta subunits that contribute to the binding sites, the experiments described here use gamma-delta subunit chimeras and site-specific mutants to determine the basis of the 10,000-fold selectivity of conotoxin M1 for the sites. Three distinct regions of the extracellular domain were found to contribute to conotoxin M1 selectivity, each containing a single residue responsible for the contribution of that region. Residues K34, S111, and F172 of the gamma subunit confer low affinity to the alpha-gamma binding site, whereas the corresponding residues of the delta subunit, S36, Y113, and I178, confer high affinity to the alpha-delta site. Identification of three separate determinants of ligand selectivity suggests a limited model of the folding pattern of the extracellular domain of the subunits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Binding, Competitive / physiology
  • Bungarotoxins / pharmacology
  • Cell Line / metabolism
  • Conotoxins*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mollusk Venoms / genetics
  • Mollusk Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Peptides, Cyclic / genetics
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology*
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / ultrastructure
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Bungarotoxins
  • Conotoxins
  • Mollusk Venoms
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • conotoxin MI