Protection by alcuronium of muscarinic receptors against chemical inactivation and location of the allosteric binding site for alcuronium

J Neurochem. 1994 Nov;63(5):1932-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.1994.63051932.x.


We have found earlier that the neuromuscular blocker alcuronium binds to cardiac muscarinic receptors simultaneously with their specific antagonist [3H]methyl-N-scopolamine ([3H]NMS) and allosterically increases their affinity to this ligand. Nothing is known about the allosteric site with which alcuronium interacts. To gain an insight, we have now investigated how the binding of [3H]NMS is affected by agents known to modify specific residues in proteins and how their effects are altered by alcuronium. Reagents that covalently modify the tyrosyl residues (p-nitrobenzenesulfonyl fluoride and 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan) and the carboxyl groups of aspartate and glutamate [1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide, N,N'-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, and N-ethyl-5-phenylisoxazolium-3'-sulfonate] blocked the binding of [3H]NMS to receptors in rat heart atria. Their action was probably due to the modification of tyrosyl and aspartyl residues directly in the muscarinic binding sites because it was antagonized by atropine and carbamoylcholine. Alcuronium and gallamine, another allosteric ligand, also protected the [3H]NMS binding sites against the inactivation by tyrosine- and carboxyl-directed chemical modifiers just as well as by benzilylcholine mustard, known to attach covalently to the muscarinic binding sites. Protection by alcuronium has also been observed on cerebrocortical muscarinic receptors. The effect of alcuronium indicates that the drug interferes with the access of chemical modifiers to the muscarinic sites. In view of the unspecific nature of most of the modifiers used (with regard to muscarinic mechanisms), the protection by alcuronium appears to be best explained on the assumption that the drug binds in close vicinity of the "classical" muscarinic site and sterically blocks the access to this site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Alcuronium / metabolism*
  • Alcuronium / pharmacology*
  • Allosteric Site
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Atropine / pharmacology
  • Carbachol / pharmacology
  • Choline / analogs & derivatives
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Choline / pharmacology
  • Cholinergic Agents / metabolism
  • Cholinergic Agents / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gallamine Triethiodide / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / analysis
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Heart Atria / chemistry
  • Heart Atria / metabolism
  • Male
  • Parasympatholytics / metabolism
  • Parasympatholytics / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / analysis
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / physiology*
  • Tyrosine / analysis
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Cholinergic Agents
  • Parasympatholytics
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Tyrosine
  • benzilylcholine mustard
  • Atropine
  • Carbachol
  • Choline
  • Acetylcholine
  • Gallamine Triethiodide
  • Alcuronium