Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) are found widely throughout the body. Like all members of the cys-loop family of receptors, nAChRs are composed of five protein subunits, each with a large extra-cellular domain and four transmembrane domains. Together these subunits form a binding domain, transmembrane pore, and selectivity filter. Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, formed exclusively from α2-10 and β2-4 subunits, can form in many arrangements and stoichiometries. Each arrangement can have varying binding affinities and channel kinetics, resulting in great modulatory control. α3 and β2 subunit mRNA is found in CA1 interneurons in the stratum radiatum and stratum oriens of the rat hippocampus, and in surprising expression frequency and ratios. Further study of α3 and β2 subunit mRNA injected into Xenopus laevis oocytes yields interesting results about the potential for two α3β2 subtypes. These results were in intriguing, and prompted further study to better characterize and screen the α3β2 nAChR. In order to do so, a model was needed where the α3β2 nAChR could be studied in a more physiologically relevant mammalian environment, with consistent control over α3 and β2 subunit expression ratios, and sufficient protein expression and functionality. To this end, we created a doxycycline inducible HEK-293 cell line, stably transfected with the genetic sequences for the α3 and β2 subunits and NACHO, a transmembrane protein of the neuronal endoplasmic reticulum, which has been shown to mediate the assembly of α3β2 and other nAChRs. This new model is able to induce expression various ratios between α3 and β2 subunits in a consistent, manner, proving to be valuable tool in the characterization and screening of the α3β2 nAChR.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Neuroscience



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neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, cell culture, HEK-293, electrophysiology, tetracycline inducible promoter