Effects of the muscarinic agonist, 5-methylfurmethiodide, on contraction and electrophysiology of Ascaris suum muscle.
ABSTRACT: Contraction and electrophysiological effects of 5-methylfurmethiodide (MFI), a selective muscarinic agonist in mammals, were tested on Ascaris suum muscle strips. In a contraction assay, MFI produced weak contraction and was less potent than levamisole and acetylcholine. Atropine (3microM) a non-selective muscarinic antagonist in mammalian preparations, did not affect contractions produced by MFI. Mecamylamine (3microM) a nicotinic antagonist in A. suum preparations, blocked the MFI contractions indicating that MFI had weak nicotinic agonist actions. In two-micropipette current-clamp experiments MFI, at concentrations greater than 10microM, produced concentration-dependent depolarizations and small increases in membrane conductance. The depolarizing effects were not abolished by perfusing the preparation in a calcium-free Ascaris Ringer solution to block synaptic transmission, suggesting that MFI effects were mediated by receptors on the muscle and were calcium-independent. A high concentration of mecamylamine, 30microM, only reduced the depolarizing responses by 42%, indicating that MFI also had effects on non-nicotinic receptors. Three non-nicotinic effects in the presence of 30microM mecamylamine were identified using voltage-clamp techniques: (i) MFI produced opening of mecamylamine-resistant non-selective-cation channel currents; (ii) MFI inhibited opening of voltage-activated potassium currents; and (iii) MFI increased the threshold of voltage-activated calcium currents. We suggest that a drug that is more selective for voltage-activated potassium currents, without effects on other channels like MFI, may be exploited pharmacologically as a novel anthelmintic or as an agent to potentiate the action of levamisole. In a larval migration assay we demonstrated that 4-aminopyridine (4-AP: a potassium channel blocker) potentiated the effects of levamisole but MFI did not.
Project description:Cholinergic agonists, like levamisole, are a major class of anthelmintic drugs that are known to act selectively on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on the somatic muscle and nerves of nematode parasites to produce their contraction and spastic paralysis. Previous studies have suggested that in addition to the nAChRs found on muscle and nerves, there are nAChRs on non-excitable tissues of nematode parasites. We looked for evidence of nAChRs expression in the cells of the intestine of the large pig nematode, Ascaris suum, using RT-PCR and RNAscope in situ hybridization and detected mRNA of nAChR subunits in the cells. These subunits include components of the putative levamisole receptor in A. suum muscle: Asu-unc-38, Asu-unc-29, Asu-unc-63 and Asu-acr-8. Relative expression of these mRNAs in A. suum intestine was quantified by qPCR. We also looked for and found expression of G protein-linked acetylcholine receptors (Asu-gar-1). We used Fluo-3 AM to detect intracellular calcium changes in response to receptor activation by acetylcholine (as a non-selective agonist) and levamisole (as an L-type nAChR agonist) to look for evidence of functioning nAChRs in the intestine. We found that both acetylcholine and levamisole elicited increases in intracellular calcium but their signal profiles in isolated intestinal tissues were different, suggesting activation of different receptor sets. The levamisole responses were blocked by mecamylamine, a nicotinic receptor antagonist in A. suum, indicating the activation of intestinal nAChRs rather than G protein-linked acetylcholine receptors (GARs) by levamisole. The detection of nAChRs in cells of the intestine, in addition to those on muscles and nerves, reveals another site of action of the cholinergic anthelmintics and a site that may contribute to the synergistic interactions of cholinergic anthelmintics with other anthelmintics that affect the intestine (Cry5B).
Project description:Zolvix® is a recently introduced anthelmintic drench containing monepantel as the active ingredient. Monepantel is a positive allosteric modulator of DEG-3/DES-2 type nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in several nematode species. The drug has been reported to produce hypercontraction of Caenorhabditis elegans and Haemonchus contortus somatic muscle. We investigated the effects of monepantel on nAChRs from Ascaris suum and Oesophagostomum dentatum heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Using two-electrode voltage-clamp electrophysiology, we studied the effects of monepantel on a nicotine preferring homomeric nAChR subtype from A. suum comprising of ACR-16; a pyrantel/tribendimidine preferring heteromeric subtype from O. dentatum comprising UNC-29, UNC-38 and UNC-63 subunits; and a levamisole preferring subtype (O. dentatum) comprising UNC-29, UNC-38, UNC-63 and ACR-8 subunits. For each subtype tested, monepantel applied in isolation produced no measurable currents thereby ruling out an agonist action. When monepantel was continuously applied, it reduced the amplitude of acetylcholine induced currents in a concentration-dependent manner. In all three subtypes, monepantel acted as a non-competitive antagonist on the expressed receptors. ACR-16 from A. suum was particularly sensitive to monepantel inhibition (IC50 values: 1.6?±?3.1?nM and 0.2?±?2.3??M). We also investigated the effects of monepantel on muscle flaps isolated from adult A. suum. The drug did not significantly increase baseline tension when applied on its own. As with acetylcholine induced currents in the heterologously expressed receptors, contractions induced by acetylcholine were antagonized by monepantel. Further investigation revealed that the inhibition was a mixture of competitive and non-competitive antagonism. Our findings suggest that monepantel is active on multiple nAChR subtypes.
Project description:The ongoing and widespread emergence of resistance to the existing anti-nematodal pharmacopeia has made it imperative to develop new anthelminthic agents. Historically, plants have been important sources of therapeutic compounds and offer an alternative to synthetic drugs. Monoterpenoids are phytochemicals that have been shown to produce acute toxic effects in insects and nematodes. Previous studies have shown nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) to be possible targets for naturally occurring plant metabolites such as carvacrol and carveol. In this study we examined the effects of monoterpenoid compounds on a levamisole sensitive nAChR from Oesophagostomum dentatum and a nicotine sensitive nAChR from Ascaris suum. We expressed the receptors in Xenopus laevis oocytes and used two-electrode voltage-clamp to characterize the effect of various compounds on these cys-loop receptors. At 100??M the majority of these compounds acted as antagonists. Interestingly, further experiments revealed that both 0.1??M and 10??M menthol potentiated acetylcholine and levamisole responses in the levamisole sensitive receptor but not the nicotine sensitive receptor. We also investigated the effects of 0.1??M menthol on the contractility of A. suum somatic muscle strips. Menthol produced significant potentiation of peak contractions at each concentration of acetylcholine. The positive allosteric modulatory effects of menthol in both in vivo and in vitro experiments suggests menthol as a promising candidate for combination therapy with cholinergic anthelmintics.
Project description:The levamisole-sensitive nicotinic acetylcholine receptor present at nematode neuromuscular junctions is composed of multiple different subunits, with the exact composition varying between species. We tested the ability of two well-conserved nicotinic receptor subunits, UNC-38 and UNC-29, from Haemonchus contortus and Ascaris suum to rescue the levamisole-resistance and locomotion defects of Caenorhabditis elegans strains with null deletion mutations in the unc-38 and unc-29 genes. The parasite cDNAs were cloned downstream of the relevant C. elegans promoters and introduced into the mutant strains via biolistic transformation. The UNC-38 subunit of H. contortus was able to completely rescue both the locomotion defects and levamisole resistance of the null deletion mutant VC2937 (ok2896), but no C. elegans expressing the A. suum UNC-38 could be detected. The H. contortus UNC-29.1 subunit partially rescued the levamisole resistance of a C. elegans null mutation in unc-29 VC1944 (ok2450), but did cause increased motility in a thrashing assay. In contrast, only a single line of worms containing the A. suum UNC-29 subunit showed a partial rescue of levamisole resistance, with no effect on thrashing.
Project description:1. The development of resistance to all chemotherapeutic agents increases and needs to be addressed. We are interested in resistance in parasitic nematodes to the anthelmintic levamisole. During studies on methyridine, we found that it gave us a new insight into pharmacological changes associated with levamisole resistance. Initially, electrophysiological investigation using a two-micropipette current-clamp recording technique revealed that methyridine acts as a cholinergic agonist on nematode muscle receptors (Ascaris suum). Methyridine (>30 microm) produced reversible concentration-dependent depolarizations and increases in input conductance. Mecamylamine (30 microm) and paraherquamide (0.3 microm) produced reversible antagonism of the depolarization and conductance responses to methyridine. These observations suggest that methyridine, like acetylcholine and levamisole, gates ion channels on the muscle of parasitic nematodes. 2. The antagonistic effects of dihydro-beta-erythroidine and paraherquamide on methyridine-induced contractions of A. suum muscle flaps were then examined to determine if methyridine showed subtype selectivity for N-subtype (nicotine-sensitive) or L-subtype (levamisole-sensitive) acetylcholine receptors. Dihydro-beta-erythroidine weakly antagonized the effects of methyridine (but had no effect on levamisole responses). The antagonism of methyridine (pA2, 5.9) and nicotine (pA2, 6.1) by paraherquamide was similar, but was less than the antagonism of levamisole (pA2, 7.0). The antagonist profiles suggested that methyridine has a selective action on the N-subtype rather than on the L-subtype. 3. A novel use for a larval inhibition migration assay was made using L3 larvae of Oesophagostomum dentatum. Inhibitory effects of nicotine, levamisole, pyrantel and methyridine on the migration of larvae of levamisole-sensitive (SENS) and levamisole-resistant (LEV-R) isolates were tested at different concentrations. Levamisole and pyrantel (putative L-subtype-selective agonists) concentration-response plots were displaced to the right in LEV-R isolates. Nicotine (an N-subtype-selective agonist) and methyridine produced little shift in concentration-response plots in the LEV-R isolates. Resistance dose ratios were used to calculate the relative selectivity, rhoL, for the L-type receptor (levamisole rhoL=1.0; pyrantel rhoL=0.93; methyridine rhoL=0.17; nicotine rhoL=0.06). These observations reveal an N-subtype-selective action of methyridine and suggest that levamisole resistance may be associated with a loss of the L-subtype, but not the N-subtype receptors. The pharmacology of methyridine suggests an approach for the treatment of levamisole-resistant parasites.
Project description:Helminth infections are of significant concern in veterinary and human medicine. The drugs available for chemotherapy are limited in number and the extensive use of these drugs has led to the development of resistance in parasites of animals and humans (Geerts and Gryseels, 2000; Kaplan, 2004; Osei-Atweneboana et al., 2007). The cyclooctadepsipeptide, emodepside, belongs to a new class of anthelmintic that has been released for animal use in recent years. Emodepside has been proposed to mimic the effects of the neuropeptide PF1 on membrane hyperpolarization and membrane conductance (Willson et al., 2003). We investigated the effects of PF1 on voltage-activated currents in Ascaris suum muscle cells. The whole cell voltage-clamp technique was employed to study these currents. Here we report two types of voltage-activated inward calcium currents: transient peak (I(peak)) and a steady-state (I(ss)). We found that 1microM PF1 inhibited the two calcium currents. The I(peak) decreased from -146nA to -99nA (P=0.0007) and the I(ss) decreased from -45nA to -12nA (P=0.002). We also found that PF1 in the presence of calcium increased the voltage-activated outward potassium current (from 521nA to 628nA (P=0.004)). The effect on the potassium current was abolished when calcium was removed and replaced with cobalt; it was also reduced at a higher concentration of PF1 (10microM). These studies demonstrate a mechanism by which PF1 decreases the excitability of the neuromuscular system by modulating calcium currents in nematodes. PF1 inhibits voltage-activated calcium currents and potentiates the voltage-activated calcium-dependent potassium current. The effect on a calcium-activated-potassium channel appears to be common to both PF1 and emodepside (Guest et al., 2007). It will be of interest to investigate the actions of emodepside on calcium currents to further elucidate the mechanism of action.
Project description:Parasitic nematodes are of medical and veterinary importance, adversely affecting human health and animal welfare. Ascaris suum is a gastrointestinal parasite of pigs; in addition to its veterinary significance it is a good model of the human parasite Ascaris lumbricoides, estimated to infect approximately 1.4 billion people globally. Anthelmintic drugs are essential to control nematode parasites, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on nerve and muscle are the targets of cholinergic anthelmintics such as levamisole and pyrantel. Previous genetic analyses of nematode nAChRs have been confined to Caenorhabditis elegans, which is phylogenetically distinct from Ascaris spp. and many other important parasites. Here we report the cloning and expression of two nAChR subunit cDNAs from A. suum. The subunits are very similar in sequence to C. elegans UNC-29 and UNC-38, are expressed on muscle cells and can be expressed robustly in Xenopus oocytes to form acetylcholine-, nicotine-, levamisole- and pyrantel-sensitive channels. We also demonstrate that changing the stoichiometry of the receptor by injecting different ratios of the subunit cRNAs can reproduce two of the three pharmacological subtypes of nAChR present in A. suum muscle cells. When the ratio was 5:1 (Asu-unc-38ratioAsu-unc-29), nicotine was a full agonist and levamisole was a partial agonist, and oocytes responded to oxantel, but not pyrantel. At the reverse ratio (1:5 Asu-unc-38ratioAsu-unc-29), levamisole was a full agonist and nicotine was a partial agonist, and the oocytes responded to pyrantel, but not oxantel. These results represent the first in vitro expression of any parasitic nicotinic receptor and show that their properties are substantially different from those of C. elegans. The results also show that changing the expression level of a single receptor subunit dramatically altered the efficacy of some anthelmintic drugs. In vitro expression of these subunits may permit the development of parasite-specific screens for future anthelmintics.
Project description:We show that three of the eleven genes of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that mediate resistance to the nematocide levamisole and to other cholinergic agonists encode nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits. unc-38 encodes an alpha subunit while lev-1 and unc-29 encode non-alpha subunits. The nematode nAChR subunits show conservation of many mammalian nAChR sequence features, implying an ancient evolutionary origin of nAChR proteins. Expression in Xenopus oocytes of combinations of these subunits that include the unc-38 alpha subunit results in levamisole-induced currents that are suppressed by the nAChR antagonists mecamylamine, neosurugatoxin, and d-tubocurarine but not alpha-bungarotoxin. The mutant phenotypes reveal that unc-38 and unc-29 subunits are necessary for nAChR function, whereas the lev-1 subunit is not. An UNC-29-GFP fusion shows that UNC-29 is expressed in body and head muscles. Two dominant mutations of lev-1 result in a single amino acid substitution or addition in or near transmembrane domain 2, a region important to ion channel conductance and desensitization. The identification of viable nAChR mutants in C. elegans provides an advantageous system in which receptor expression and synaptic targeting can be manipulated and studied in vivo.
Project description:We show that a portion of the TM2 domain regulates the sensitivity of beta subunit-containing rat neuronal nicotinic AChR to the ganglionic blocker mecamylamine, such that the substitution of 4 amino acids of the muscle beta subunit sequence into the neuronal beta4 sequence decreases the potency of mecamylamine by a factor of 200 and eliminates any long-term effects of this drug on receptor function. The same exchange of sequence that decreases inhibition by mecamylamine produces a comparable potentiation of long-term inhibition by nicotine. Inhibition by mecamylamine is voltage-dependent, suggesting a direct interaction of mecamylamine with sequence elements within the membrane field. We have previously shown that sensitivity to TMP (tetramethylpiperidine) inhibitors is controlled by the same sequence elements that determine mecamylamine sensitivity. However, inhibition by bis-TMP compounds is independent of voltage. Our experiments did not show any influence of voltage on the inhibition of chimeric receptors by nicotine, suggesting that the inhibitory effects of nicotine are mediated by binding to a site outside the membrane's electric field. An analysis of point mutations indicates that the residues at the 6' position within the beta subunit TM2 domain may be important for determining the effects of both mecamylamine and nicotine in a reciprocal manner. Single mutations at the 10' position are not sufficient to produce effects, but 6' 10' double mutants show more effect than do the 6' single mutants.
Project description:Nematode parasites infect ?2 billion people world-wide. Infections are treated and prevented by anthelmintic drugs, some of which act on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). There is an unmet need for novel therapeutic agents because of concerns about the development of resistance. We have selected Asu-ACR-16 from a significant nematode parasite genus, Ascaris suum, as a pharmaceutical target and nicotine as our basic moiety (EC50 6.21 ± 0.56 ?M, Imax 82.39 ± 2.52%) to facilitate the development of more effective anthelmintics. We expressed Asu-ACR-16 in Xenopus oocytes and used two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology to determine agonist concentration-current-response relationships and determine the potencies (EC50s) of the agonists. Here, we describe the synthesis of a novel agonist, (S)-5-ethynyl-anabasine, and show that it is more potent (EC50 0.14 ± 0.01 ?M) than other nicotine alkaloids on Asu-ACR-16. Agonists acting on ACR-16 receptors have the potential to circumvent drug resistance to anthelmintics, like levamisole, that do not act on the ACR-16 receptors.