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Bipinnatin-A, -B, and -C belong to a family of naturally occurring marine neurotoxins known as the lophotoxins. The lophotoxins are unique in that they irreversibly inhibit nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by forming a covalent bond with a tyrosine residue at position 190 in the alpha-subunit of the receptor. In this study, we show that the inhibitory activity of the bipinnatins against the nicotinic receptor increased with preincubation of the toxins in aqueous buffer prior to incubation with the receptor. The parent species of the bipinnatins displayed little, if any, affinity for the nicotinic receptor. Preincubation of the toxins appeared to produce a single, relatively stable, active toxin species that irreversibly inhibited the two acetylcholine-binding sites on the nicotinic receptor with two distinguishable apparent pseudo first-order rates. The difference in the rates of irreversible inhibition of the two binding sites on the receptor was exploited to selectively inhibit one site for the pharmacological investigation of the other. The bipinnatins preferentially inhibited the binding site near the alpha/delta-subunit interface that displays low affinity for metocurine and high affinity for acetylcholine. The bimolecular reaction constants for the interaction of the bipinnatins with the nicotinic receptor decreased in the order bipinnatin-B > bipinnatin-A > bipinnatin-C for both acetylcholine-binding sites. The ratio of the bimolecular reaction constants for the two binding sites on the receptor was not the same for the three bipinnatins. This indicates that the reaction of the bipinnatins with the nicotinic receptor is sensitive to differences in the structure of the two acetylcholine-binding sites. The bipinnatins may be useful in the design of novel drugs for the nicotinic receptor that exclusively inhibit one of the two binding sites and for the investigation of structural differences between the two acetylcholine-binding sites of the receptor.


D R Groebe, J M Dumm, S N Abramson. Irreversible inhibition of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by the bipinnatins. Toxin activation and kinetics of receptor inhibition. The Journal of biological chemistry. 1994 Mar 25;269(12):8885-91

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PMID: 8132625

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