The receptor chimera α7-5HT3A has served as a prototype for understanding the pharmacology of α7 neuronal nicotinic receptors, yet its low single channel conductance has prevented studies of the activation kinetics of single receptor channels. In this study, we show that introducing mutations in the M3-M4 cytoplasmic linker of the chimera alters neither the apparent affinity for the agonist nor the EC50 but increases the amplitude of agonist-evoked single channel currents to enable kinetic analysis. Channel events appear as single brief openings flanked by long closings or as bursts of several openings in quick succession. Both the open and closed time distributions are described as the sum of multiple exponential components, but these do not change over a wide range of acetylcholine (ACh), nicotine, or choline concentrations. Bursts elicited by a saturating concentration of ACh contain brief and long openings and closings, and a cyclic scheme containing two open and two closed states is found to adequately describe the data. The analysis indicates that once fully occupied, the receptor opens rapidly and efficiently, and closes and reopens several times before it desensitizes. Channel closing and desensitization occur at similar rates and account for the invariant open and closed time distributions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine