α-Bungarotoxin (α-Btx) binds to the five agonist binding sites on the homopentameric α7-acetylcholine receptor, yet the number of bound α-Btx molecules required to prevent agonist-induced channel opening remains unknown. To determine the stoichiometry for α-Btx blockade, we generate receptors comprised of wild-type and α-Btx-resistant subunits, tag one of the subunit types with conductance mutations to report subunit stoichiometry, and following incubation with α-Btx, monitor opening of individual receptor channels with defined subunit stoichiometry. We find that a single α-Btx-sensitive subunit confers nearly maximal suppression of channel opening, despite four binding sites remaining unoccupied by α-Btx and accessible to the agonist. Given structural evidence that α-Btx locks the agonist binding site in an inactive conformation, we conclude that the dominant mechanism of antagonism is non-competitive, originating from conformational arrest of the binding sites, and that the five α7 subunits are interdependent and maintain conformational symmetry in the open channel state.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)