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    Effective control of hookworm infections in humans and animals relies on using a small group of anthelmintics. Many of these drugs target cholinergic ligand-gated ion channels, yet the direct activity of anthelmintics has only been studied in a subset of these receptors, primarily in the non-parasitic nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. Here we report the characterization of a homopentameric ionotropic acetylcholine receptor (AChR), ACR-16, from Necator americanus and Ancylostoma ceylanicum, the first known characterization of human hookworm ion channels. We used two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology in Xenopus laevis oocytes to determine the pharmacodynamics of cholinergics and anthelmintics on ACR-16 from both species of hookworm. The A. ceylanicum receptor (Ace-ACR-16) was more sensitive to acetylcholine (EC50 = 20.64 ± 0.32 μM) and nicotine (EC50 = 24.37 ± 2.89 μM) than the N. americanus receptor (Nam-ACR-16) (acetylcholine EC50 = 170.1 ± 19.23 μM; nicotine EC50 = 597.9 ± 59.12 μM), at which nicotine was a weak partial agonist (% maximal acetylcholine response = 30.4 ± 7.4%). Both receptors were inhibited by 500 μM levamisole (Ace-ACR-16 = 65.1 ± 14.3% inhibition, Nam-ACR-16 = 79.5 ± 7.7% inhibition), and responded to pyrantel, but only Ace-ACR-16 responded to oxantel. We used in silico homology modeling to investigate potential structural differences that account for the differences in agonist binding and identified a loop E isoleucine 130 of Nam-ACR-16 as possibly playing a role in oxantel insensitivity. These data indicate that key functional differences exist among ACR-16 receptors from closely related species and suggest mechanisms for differential drug sensitivity. Copyright © 2020 Kaji, Geary and Beech.


    Mark D Kaji, Timothy G Geary, Robin N Beech. A Functional Comparison of Homopentameric Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors (ACR-16) Receptors From Necator americanus and Ancylostoma ceylanicum. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience. 2020;13:601102

    PMID: 33324163

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