The Journal of biological chemistry

Agonist binding site of Torpedo electric tissue nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. A negatively charged region of the delta subunit within 0.9 nm of the alpha subunit binding site disulfide.

PMID 1939274


The positively charged quaternary ammonium group of agonists of the nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor binds to a negative subsite at most about 1 nm from a readily reducible disulfide. This disulfide is formed by alpha Cys192 and Cys193 (Kao and Karlin, 1986). In order to identify Asp or Glu residues that may contribute to the negative subsite, we synthesized S-(2-[3H]glycylamidoethyl)dithio-2-pyridine. Purified ACh receptor from Torpedo californica was mildly reduced and reacted with S-(2-[3H]glycylamidoethyl)dithio-2-pyridine. The predominant product was a mixed disulfide between the 3H-N-glycylcysteamine moiety and alpha Cys192 or Cys193. In the extended conformation of [3H] N-glycylcysteamine, the distance from the glycyl amino group to the cysteamine thio group is 0.9 nm. Thus, the amino group of disulfide-linked [3H]N-glycylcysteamine could react with carboxyls within 0.9 nm of Cys192/Cys193. To promote amide bond formation between the tethered amino group and receptor carboxyls, we added 1-ethyl-3-(3'-dimethylaminopropyl)-carbodiimide. The predominant sites of amide coupling were on the delta subunit, in CNBr fragment 4 (delta 164-257). This reaction was inhibited by ACh. Only the first 61 residues of delta CNBr 4 are predicted to be extracellular, and there are 11 Asp or Gly residues in this region. One or more of these residues is likely to contribute to the binding of ACh.

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