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Nematode nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are molecular targets of several anthelmintic drugs. Studies to date on Caenorhabditis elegans and Ascaris suum have demonstrated atypical pharmacology with respect to nAChR antagonists, including the finding that kappa-bungarotoxin is a more effective antagonist than alpha-bungarotoxin on Ascaris muscle nAChRs. Lophotoxin and its naturally occurring analogue bipinnatin B block all vertebrate and invertebrate nAChRs so far examined. In the present study, the effects on nematode nAChRs of bipinnatin B have been examined. The Ascaris suum muscle cell nAChR was found to be insensitive to 30 mumol l-1 bipinnatin B, a concentration that is highly effective on other nAChRs. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a nAChR that is insensitive to one of the lophotoxins. Xenopus laevis oocytes injected with C. elegans polyadenylated, poly(A+), mRNA also expressed bipinnatin-B-insensitive levamisole responses, which were, however, blocked by the nAChR antagonist mecamylamine (10 mumol l-1). In contrast to the findings for nematode receptors, bipinnatin B (30 mumol l-1) was effective in blocking mouse muscle nAChRs expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and native insect nAChRs. A possible explanation for insensitivity of certain nematode nAChRs to lophotoxins is advanced based on the sequence of an alpha-like C. elegans nAChR subunit in which tyrosine-190 (numbering based on the Torpedo californica sequence), a residue known to be critical for lophotoxin binding in vertebrate nAChRs, is replaced by a proline residue.


C Tornøe, L Holden-Dye, C Garland, S N Abramson, J T Fleming, D B Sattelle. Lophotoxin-insensitive nematode nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The Journal of experimental biology. 1996 Oct;199(Pt 10):2161-8

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PMID: 8896363

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