Using the Lymnaea acetylcholine-binding protein as a surrogate of the extracellular domain of the nicotinic receptor, we combined site-directed labeling with fluorescence spectroscopy to assess possible linkages between ligand binding and conformational dynamics. Specifically, 2-[(5-fluoresceinyl) aminocarbonyl] ethyl methanethiosulfonate was conjugated to a free cysteine on loop C and to five substituted cysteines at strategic locations in the subunit sequence, and the backbone flexibility around each site of conjugation was measured with time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy. The sites examined were in loop C (Cys-188 using a C187S mutant), in the β9 strand (T177C), in the β10 strand (D194C), in the β8-β9 loop (N158C and Y164C), and in the β7 strand (K139C). Conjugated fluorophores at these locations show distinctive anisotropy decay patterns indicating different degrees of segmental fluctuations near the agonist binding pocket. Ligand occupation and decay of anisotropy were assessed for one agonist (epibatidine) and two antagonists (α-bungarotoxin and d-tubocurarine). The Y164C and Cys-188 conjugates were also investigated with additional agonists (nicotine and carbamylcholine), partial agonists (lobeline and 4-hydroxy, 2-methoxy-benzylidene anabaseine), and an antagonist (methyllycaconitine). With the exception of the T177C conjugate, both agonists and antagonists perturbed the backbone flexibility of each site; however, agonist-selective changes were only observed at Y164C in loop F where the agonists and partial agonists increased the range and/or rate of the fast anisotropy decay processes. The results reveal that agonists and antagonists produced distinctive changes in the flexibility of a portion of loop F.
ASJC Scopus subject areas