Structural effects of neutral and anionic lipids on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. An infrared difference spectroscopy study.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.
The effects of both neutral and anionic lipids on the structure of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) have been probed using infrared difference spectroscopy. The difference between infrared spectra of the nAChR recorded using the attenuated total reflectance technique in the presence and absence of the neurotransmitter analog, carbamylcholine, exhibits a complex pattern of positive and negative bands that provides a spectral map of the structural changes that occur in the nAChR upon ligand binding and subsequent desensitization. This spectral map is essentially identical in difference spectra recorded from native, native alkaline-extracted, and affinity-purified nAChR reconstituted into either soybean asolectin or egg phosphatidylcholine membranes containing both neutral and anionic lipids. This result suggests both a similar structure of the nAChR and a similar resting to desensitized conformational change in each membrane environment. In contrast, difference spectra recorded from the nAChR reconstituted into egg phosphatidylcholine membranes lacking neutral and/or anionic lipids all exhibit an essentially identical pattern of band intensity variations, which is similar to the pattern of variations observed in difference spectra recorded in the continuous presence of the desensitizing local anesthetic, dibucaine. The difference spectra suggest that the main effect of both neutral and anionic lipids in a reconstituted egg phosphatidylcholine membrane is to help stabilize the nAChR in a resting conformation. In the absence of neutral and/or anionic lipids, the nAChR is converted into an alternate conformation that appears to be analogous to the local anesthetic-induced desensitized state. Significantly, the proportion of receptors found in the resting versus the putative desensitized state appears to be dependent upon the final lipid composition of the reconstituted membrane. A lipid-dependent modulation of the equilibrium between a channel-active resting and channel-inactive desensitized state may account for the modulations of nAChR activity that are observed in different lipid membranes.
Mesh Terms:
Anions, Cell Membrane, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Ion Transport, Lipids, Protein Structure, Secondary, Receptors, Nicotinic, Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
J. Biol. Chem. Oct. 04, 1996; 271(40);24590-7 [PUBMED:8798723]
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