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The goal of the present study is to examine the agonist action of nornicotine on insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Using patch-clamp techniques on cockroach dorsal unpaired median neurons, we demonstrated that nornicotine induced two distinct ionic currents named types 1 and 2. We found that alpha-bungarotoxin induced a rapid desensitization of type 1 currents whereas type 2 was completely blocked. Interestingly, types 1 and 2 currents were not blocked by the muscarinic antagonist, pirenzepine but by co-application of 1 μM pirenzepine and 0.5 μM alpha-bungarotoxin, suggesting that muscarinic receptors modulated nornicotine-induced current amplitudes. In addition, type 1 current amplitudes were strongly reduced by 20 μM d-tubocurarine and 5 μM mecamylamine which blocked the previously identified alpha-bungarotoxin-insensitive nAChR1 and nAChR2 receptors. Co-application of alpha-bungarotoxin with d-tubocurarine or mecamylamine completely blocked all ionic currents. We propose that types 1 and 2 currents are associated to several nicotinic receptors subtypes, including nAChR1 and nAChR2 receptors. Finally, we conclude that nornicotine could be used as an agonist to identify distinct insect nicotinic receptors. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Delphine Calas-List, Olivier List, Steeve H Thany. Nornicotine application on cockroach dorsal unpaired median neurons induces two distinct ionic currents: implications of different nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Neuroscience letters. 2012 Jun 14;518(1):64-8

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PMID: 22580207

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