Distinct Agonist Regulation of Muscarinic Acetylcholine M2-M3 Heteromers and Their Corresponding Homomers [Signal Transduction]

April 27th, 2015 by Aslanoglou, D., Alvarez-Curto, E., Marsango, S., Milligan, G.

Each subtype of the muscarinic receptor family of G protein-coupled receptors is activated by similar concentrations of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine or closely related synthetic analogs such as carbachol. However, pharmacological selectivity can be generated by the introduction of a pair of mutations to produce Receptor Activated Solely by Synthetic Ligand (RASSL) forms of muscarinic receptors. These display loss of potency for acetylcholine/carbachol alongside a concurrent gain in potency for the ligand clozapine N-oxide. Co-expression of a form of wild type human M2 and a RASSL variant of the human M3 receptor resulted in concurrent detection of each of M2-M2 and M3-M3 homomers alongside M2-M3 heteromers at the surface of stably transfected Flp-InTM T-RExTM 293 cells. In this setting occupancy of the receptors with a muscarinic antagonist was without detectable effect on any of the muscarinic oligomers. However, selective agonist occupancy of the M2 receptor resulted in enhanced M2-M2 homomer interactions but decreased M2-M3 heteromer interactions. By contrast, selective activation of the M3 RASSL receptor did not significantly alter either M3-M3 homomer or M2-M3 heteromer interactions. Selectively targeting closely related receptor oligomers may provide novel therapeutic opportunities.