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Structural determinants for interaction of partial agonists with acetylcholine binding protein and neuronal alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

Hibbs R.E., Sulzenbacher G., Shi J., Talley T.T., Conrod S., Kem W.R., Taylor P., Marchot P., Bourne Y.

The pentameric acetylcholine-binding protein (AChBP) is a soluble surrogate of the ligand binding domain of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Agonists bind within a nest of aromatic side chains contributed by loops C and F on opposing faces of each subunit interface. Crystal structures of Aplysia AChBP bound with the agonist anabaseine, two partial agonists selectively activating the alpha7 receptor, 3-(2,4-dimethoxybenzylidene)-anabaseine and its 4-hydroxy metabolite, and an indole-containing partial agonist, tropisetron, were solved at 2.7-1.75 A resolution. All structures identify the Trp 147 carbonyl oxygen as the hydrogen bond acceptor for the agonist-protonated nitrogen. In the partial agonist complexes, the benzylidene and indole substituent positions, dictated by tight interactions with loop F, preclude loop C from adopting the closed conformation seen for full agonists. Fluctuation in loop C position and duality in ligand binding orientations suggest molecular bases for partial agonism at full-length receptors. This study, while pointing to loop F as a major determinant of receptor subtype selectivity, also identifies a new template region for designing alpha7-selective partial agonists to treat cognitive deficits in mental and neurodegenerative disorders.

EMBO J. 28:3040-3051(2009) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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