Journal Article

Role of the Cys loop and transmembrane domain in the allosteric modulation of α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors


​Allosteric modulators of pentameric ligand gated ion channels (pLGICs) are thought to act on elements of the pathways that couple agonist binding to channel gating. Using α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and the α4β2-selective positive modulators 17β-estradiol (βEST) and desformylflustrabromine (dFBr), we have identified pathways that link the binding sites for these modulators to the Cys loop, a region that is critical for channel gating in all pLGICs. Previous studies have shown that the binding site for potentiating βEST is in the C-terminal (post-M4 region) of the α4 subunit. Here, using homology modelling in combination with mutagenesis and electrophysiology, we identified the binding site for potentiating dFBr on the top-half of a cavity between the third (M3) and fourth transmembrane (M4) α-helices of the α4 subunit. We found that the binding sites for βEST and dFBr communicate with the Cys loop, through interactions between the last residue of post-M4 and F170 of the conserved FPF sequence of the Cys loop, and that these interactions affect potentiating efficacy. In addition, interactions between a residue in M3 (Y309) and F167, a residue adjacent to the Cys loop FPF motif, also affect dFBr potentiating efficacy. Thus, the Cys loop acts as a key control element in the allosteric transduction pathway for potentiating βEST and dFBr. Overall, we propose that positive allosteric modulators that bind the M3-M4 cavity or post-M4 region increase the efficacy of channel gating through interactions with the Cys loop.

Attached files


Alcaino, C
Musgaard, M
Minguez, T
Mazzaferro, S
Faundez, M
Iturriaga-Vasquez, P
Biggin, P
Bermudez-Diaz, I

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2016
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-01-10

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Role of the Cys loop and transmembrane domain in the allosteric modulation of ?4?2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors


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