Asymmetric transmitter binding sites of fetal muscle acetylcholine receptors shape their synaptic response.
ABSTRACT: Neuromuscular acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) have two transmitter binding sites: at ?-? and either ?-? (fetal) or ?-? (adult) subunit interfaces. The ?-subunit of fetal AChRs is indispensable for the proper development of neuromuscular synapses. We estimated parameters for acetylcholine (ACh) binding and gating from single channel currents of fetal mouse AChRs expressed in tissue-cultured cells. The unliganded gating equilibrium constant is smaller and less voltage-dependent than in adult AChRs. However, the ?-? binding site has a higher affinity for ACh and provides more binding energy for gating compared with ?-?; therefore, the diliganded gating equilibrium constant at -100 mV is comparable for both receptor subtypes. The -2.2 kcal/mol extra binding energy from ?-? compared with ?-? and ?-? is accompanied by a higher resting affinity for ACh, mainly because of slower transmitter dissociation. End plate current simulations suggest that the higher affinity and increased energy from ?-? are essential for generating synaptic responses at low pulse [ACh].
Project description:The neuromuscular acetylcholine receptor (AChR) is an allosteric protein that alternatively adopts inactive versus active conformations (R<-->R). The R shape has a higher agonist affinity and ionic conductance than R. To understand how agonists trigger this gating isomerization, we examined single-channel currents from adult mouse muscle AChRs that isomerize normally without agonists but have only a single site able to use agonist binding energy to motivate gating. We estimated the monoliganded gating equilibrium constant E(1) and the energy change associated with the R versus R change in affinity for agonists. AChRs with only one operational binding site gave rise to a single population of currents, indicating that the two transmitter binding sites have approximately the same affinity for the transmitter ACh. The results indicated that E(1) approximately 4.3 x 10(-3) with ACh, and approximately 1.7 x 10(-4) with the partial-agonist choline. From these values and the diliganded gating equilibrium constants, we estimate that the unliganded AChR gating constant is E(0) approximately 6.5 x 10(-7). Gating changes the stability of the ligand-protein complex by approximately 5.2 kcal/mol for ACh and approximately 3.3 kcal/mol for choline.
Project description:We estimated the unliganded opening and closing rate constants of neuromuscular acetylcholine receptor-channels (AChRs) having mutations that increased the gating equilibrium constant. For some mutant combinations, spontaneous openings occurred in clusters. For 25 different constructs, the unliganded gating equilibrium constant (E(0)) was correlated with the product of the predicted fold-increase in the diliganded gating equilibrium constant caused by each mutation alone. We estimate that (i) E(0) for mouse, wild-type alpha(2)beta delta epsilon AChRs is approximately 1.15 x 10(-7); (ii) unliganded AChRs open for approximately 80 micros, once every approximately 15 min; (iii) the affinity for ACh of the O(pen) conformation is approximately 10 nM, or approximately 15,600 times greater than for the C(losed) conformation; (iv) the ACh-monoliganded gating equilibrium constant is approximately 1.7 x 10(-3); (v) the C-->O isomerization reduces substantially ACh dissociation, but only slightly increases association; and (vi) ACh provides only approximately 0.9 k(B)T more binding energy per site than carbamylcholine but approximately 3.1 k(B)T more than choline, mainly because of a low O conformation affinity. Most mutations of binding site residue alphaW149 increase E(0). We estimate that the mutation alphaW149F reduces the ACh affinity of C only by 13-fold, but of O by 190-fold. Rate-equilibrium free-energy relationships for different regions of the protein show similar slopes (Phi values) for un- vs. diliganded gating, which suggests that the conformational pathway of the gating structural change is fundamentally the same with and without agonists. Agonist binding is a perturbation that (like most mutations) changes the energy, but not the mechanism, of the gating conformational change.
Project description:A primary target for nicotine is the acetylcholine receptor channel (AChR). Some of the ability of nicotine to activate differentially AChR subtypes has been traced to a transmitter-binding site amino acid that is glycine in lower affinity and lysine in higher affinity AChRs. We studied the effects of mutations of this residue (?G153) in neuromuscular AChRs activated by nicotine and eight other agonists including nornicotine and anabasine. All of the mutations increased the unliganded gating equilibrium constant. The affinity of the resting receptor (K(d)) and the net binding energy from the agonist for gating (?G(B)) were estimated by cross-concentration fitting of single-channel currents. In all but one of the agonist/mutant combinations there was a moderate decrease in K(d) and essentially no change in ?G(B). The exceptional case was nicotine plus lysine, which showed a large, >8,000-fold decrease in K(d) but no change in ?G(B). The extraordinary specificity of this combination leads us to speculate that AChRs with a lysine at position ?G153 may be exposed to a nicotine-like compound in vivo.
Project description:The interaction of a small molecule made in one cell with a large receptor made in another is the signature event of cell signaling. Understanding the structure and energy changes associated with agonist activation is important for engineering drugs, receptors and synapses. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) is a ?300kD ion channel that binds the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) and other cholinergic agonists to elicit electrical responses in the central and peripheral nervous systems. This mini-review is in two sections. First, general concepts of skeletal muscle AChR operation are discussed in terms of energy landscapes for conformational change. Second, adult vs. fetal AChRs are compared with regard to interaction energies between ACh and agonist-site side chains, measured by single-channel electrophysiology and molecular dynamics simulations. The five aromatic residues that form the core of each agonist binding site can be divided into two working groups, a triad (led by ?Y190) that behaves similarly at all sites and a coupled pair (led by ?W55) that has a large influence on affinity only in fetal AChRs. Each endplate AChR has 5 homologous subunits, two of ?(1) and one each of ?, ?, and either ? (fetal) or ? (adult). These nicotinic AChRs have only 2 functional agonist binding sites located in the extracellular domain, at ?? and either ?? or ?? subunit interfaces. The receptor undergoes a reversible, global isomerization between structures called C and O. The C shape does not conduct ions and has a relatively low affinity for ACh, whereas O conducts cations and has a higher affinity. When both agonist sites are empty (filled only with water) the probability of taking on the O conformation (PO) is low, <10(-6). When ACh molecules occupy the agonist sites the C?O opening rate constant and C?O gating equilibrium constant increase dramatically. Following a pulse of ACh at the nerve-muscle synapse, the endplate current rises rapidly to reach a peak that corresponds to PO ?0.96.
Project description:Adult-type nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) mediate signalling at mature neuromuscular junctions and fetal-type AChRs are necessary for proper synapse development. Each AChR has two neurotransmitter binding sites located at the interface of a principal and a complementary subunit. Although all agonist binding sites have the same core of five aromatic amino acids, the fetal site has ?30-fold higher affinity for the neurotransmitter ACh. Here we use molecular dynamics simulations of adult versus fetal homology models to identify complementary-subunit residues near the core that influence affinity, and use single-channel electrophysiology to corroborate the results. Four residues in combination determine adult versus fetal affinity. Simulations suggest that at lower-affinity sites, one of these unsettles the core directly and the others (in loop E) increase backbone flexibility to unlock a key, complementary tryptophan from the core. Swapping only four amino acids is necessary and sufficient to exchange function between adult and fetal AChRs.
Project description:The two transmitter binding sites of the neuromuscular acetylcholine (ACh) receptor channel contain several aromatic residues, including a tryptophan located on the complementary, negative face of each binding pocket. These two residues, Trp-55 in the epsilon subunit and Trp-57 in the delta subunit, were mutated (AEFHILRVY), and for most constructs the rate constants for acetylcholine binding and channel gating were estimated by using single channel kinetic analyses. The rate constants for unliganded channel opening and closing were also estimated for some mutants. From these measurements we calculated all of the equilibrium constants of the "allosteric" cycle as follows: diliganded gating, unliganded gating, dissociation from the C(losed) conformation, and dissociation from the O(pen) conformation. The results indicate the following. (i) These aromatic side chains play a relatively minor role in ACh receptor channel activation. (ii) The main consequence of mutations is to reduce the affinity of the O conformation of the binding site for ACh, with the effect being greater at the epsilon subunit. (iii) In epsilon (but not delta) the aromatic nature of the side chain is important in determining affinity, to a slightly greater degree in the O conformation. Phi value analyses (of both tryptophan residues) show Phi approximately 1 for both the ACh binding and diliganded gating reactions. (iv) This suggests that the structural boundaries of the dynamic elements of the gating conformational change may not be subunit-delimited, and (v) the mutated tryptophan residues experience energy changes that occur relatively early in both the ligand-binding and channel-gating reactions.
Project description:Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) channels at neuromuscular synapses rarely open in the absence of agonists, but many different mutations increase the unliganded gating equilibrium constant (E0) to generate AChRs that are active constitutively. We measured E0 for two different sets of mutant combinations and by extrapolation estimated E0 for wild-type AChRs. The estimates were 7.6 and 7.8×10(-7) in adult-type mouse AChRs (-100 mV at 23°C). The values are in excellent agreement with one obtained previously by using a completely different method (6.5×10(-7), from monoliganded gating). E0 decreases with depolarization to the same extent as does the diliganded gating equilibrium constant, e-fold with ?60 mV. We estimate that at -100 mV the intrinsic energy of the unliganded gating isomerization is +8.4 kcal/mol (35 kJ/mol), and that in the absence of a membrane potential, the intrinsic chemical energy of this global conformational change is +9.4 kcal/mol (39 kJ/mol). Na+ and K+ in the extracellular solution have no measureable effect on E0, which suggests that unliganded gating occurs with only water occupying the transmitter binding sites. The results are discussed with regard to the energy changes in receptor activation and the competitive antagonism of ions in agonist binding.
Project description:Agonists, including the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), bind at two sites in the neuromuscular ACh receptor channel (AChR) to promote a reversible, global change in protein conformation that regulates the flow of ions across the muscle cell membrane. In the synaptic cleft, ACh is hydrolyzed to acetate and choline. Replacement of the transmitter's ester acetyl group with a hydroxyl (ACh?choline) results in a + 1.8 kcal/mol reduction in the energy for gating generated by each agonist molecule from a low- to high-affinity change of the transmitter binding site (?G(B)). To understand the distinct actions of structurally related agonist molecules, we measured ?G(B) for 10 related choline derivatives. Replacing the hydroxyl group of choline with different substituents, such as hydrogen, chloride, methyl, or amine, increased the energy for gating (i.e., it made ?G(B) more negative relative to choline). Extending the ethyl hydroxide tail of choline to propyl and butyl hydroxide also increased this energy. Our findings reveal the amount of energy that is available for the AChR conformational change provided by different, structurally related agonists. We speculate that a hydrogen bond between the choline hydroxyl and the backbone carbonyl of ?W149 positions this agonist's quaternary ammonium group so as to reduce the cation-? interaction between this moiety and the aromatic groups at the binding site.
Project description:The neuromuscular acetylcholine (ACh) receptor has two conserved prolines in loop D of the complementary subunit at each of its two transmitter-binding sites (?-? and ?-?). We used single-channel electrophysiology to estimate the energy changes caused by mutations of these prolines with regard to unliganded gating (?G0) and the affinity change for ACh that increases the open channel probability (?GB). The effects of mutations of ProD2 (?Pro-121/?Pro-123) were greater than those of its neighbor (?Pro-120/?Pro-122) and were greater at ?-? versus ?-?. The main consequence of the congenital myasthenic syndrome mutation ?ProD2-L was to impair the establishment of a high affinity for ACh and thus make ?GB less favorable. At both binding sites, most ProD2 mutations decreased constitutive activity (increased ?G0). LRYHQG and RL substitutions reduced substantially the net binding energy (made ?GB(ACh) less favorable) by ?2 kcal/mol at ?-? and ?-?, respectively. Mutant cycle analyses were used to estimate energy coupling between the two ProD2 residues and between each ProD2 and glycine residues (?Gly-147 and ?Gly-153) on the primary (? subunit) side of each binding pocket. The distant binding site prolines interact weakly. ProD2 interacts strongly with ?Gly-147 but only at ?-? and only when ACh is present. The results suggest that in the low to-high affinity change there is a concerted inter-subunit strain in the backbones at ?ProD2 and ?Gly-147. It is possible to engineer receptors having a single functional binding site by using a ?-? or ?-? ProD2-R knock-out mutation. In adult-type ACh receptors, the energy from the affinity change for ACh is approximately the same at the two binding sites (approximately -5 kcal/mol).
Project description:Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) mediate signaling in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The AChR gating conformational change is powered by a low- to high-affinity change for neurotransmitters at two transmitter binding sites. We estimated (from single-channel currents) the components of energy for gating arising from binding site aromatic residues in the ?-subunit. All mutations reduced the energy (TyrC1>>TrpB?TyrC2>TyrA), with TyrC1 providing ~40% of the total. Considered one at a time, the fractional energy contributions from the aromatic rings were TrpB ~35%, TyrC1 ~28%, TyrC2 ~28%, and TyrA ~10%. Together, TrpB, TyrC1, and TyrC2 comprise an "aromatic triad" that provides much of the total energy from the transmitter for gating. Analysis of mutant pairs suggests that the energy contributions from some residues are nearly independent. Mutations of TyrC1 cause particularly large energy reductions because they remove two favorable and approximately equal interactions between the aromatic ring and the quaternary amine of the agonist and between the hydroxyl and ?Lys?7.