Contribution of the beta subunit M2 segment to the ion-conducting pathway of the acetylcholine receptor

Biochemistry. 1998 Jun 2;37(22):7952-64. doi: 10.1021/bi980143m.


We have applied the substituted-cysteine-accessibility method (SCAM) to the M2 segment and the M1-M2 loop of the acetylcholine (ACh) receptor beta subunit. Each residue from beta P248 to beta D273 was mutated one at a time to Cys, and the mutant beta subunits were expressed together with wild-type alpha, beta, and delta subunits in Xenopus oocytes. For each of the mutants, the ACh-induced current was near wild-type. The accessibility of the substituted Cys was inferred from the irreversible inhibition or potentiation of ACh-induced current by methanethiosulfonate (MTS) derivatives added extracellularly. Inhibition by MTSethylammonium of beta G255C, in the narrow part of the channel, was mainly due to a reduction in the single-channel conductance. Conversely, potentiation by MTSethylammonium of beta V266C, in a wider part of the channel, was mainly due to an increase in channel open-time. Two substituted Cys at the intracellular end of M2 and three at the extracellular end were accessible to MTSethylammonium in the absence of ACh. Three additional Cys in the middle of M2 and three in the M1-M2 loop were accessible in the presence of ACh. In the presence of ACh, the secondary structure of beta M2 is alpha-helical from beta G255 to beta V266 and extended from beta L268 to beta D273. The accessible residues in beta M2 are remarkably hydrophobic, while the accessible residues in the M1-M2 loop are charged. beta M2, like alpha M2, alpha M1, and beta M1, undergoes widespread structural changes concomitant with gating, but the gate itself is close to the intracellular end of the channel. Many aligned residues in the M2 segments of alpha and beta are not identically accessible, indicating that the two subunits contribute differently to the channel lining.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / agonists
  • Acetylcholine / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cysteine / genetics
  • Drug Synergism
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate / analogs & derivatives
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate / chemistry
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate / pharmacology
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ion Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ion Channels / chemistry*
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Mesylates / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / genetics


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ion Channels
  • Mesylates
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • methanethiosulfonate ethylammonium
  • (2-sulfonatoethyl)methanethiosulfonate
  • (2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl)methanethiosulfonate
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate
  • Cysteine
  • Acetylcholine