The binding sites on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of labels specific for the alpha-, beta-, and delta-subunits were determined by electron image analysis, using tubular crystals of receptors grown from the postsynaptic membranes of Torpedo marmorata electric organ. The labels were alpha-bungarotoxin (which attaches to the acetylcholine binding sites on the pair of alpha-subunits), Fab35 (a monoclonal antibody Fab fragment directed against the main immunogenic region of the alpha-subunit), Fab111 (a monoclonal antibody Fab fragment directed against a cytoplasmic site on the beta-subunit), and wheat germ agglutinin (which binds to N-acetylglucosamine residues on the delta-subunit). These labels, bound to receptors in the crystals, were located by comparing labeled with native structures, averaged in each case over more than 5,000 molecules. From the assignments made, we find that the clockwise arrangement of subunits around the receptor, viewed from the synaptic face, is: alpha, beta, alpha, gamma, and delta; that the main immunogenic region is at (or close to) the side of the alpha-subunit; and that the two acetylcholine binding sites are at the synaptic end of the alpha-subunits, 27-28 A from the central axis and approximately 53 A apart. In the crystal lattice, neighboring molecules are paired so that their delta- and alpha-subunits are juxtaposed, an organization that appears to relate closely to the grouping of receptors in vivo.
Location of subunits within the acetylcholine receptor by electron image analysis of tubular crystals from Torpedo marmorata.
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E Kubalek, S Ralston, J Lindstrom, N Unwin; Location of subunits within the acetylcholine receptor by electron image analysis of tubular crystals from Torpedo marmorata.. J Cell Biol 1 July 1987; 105 (1): 9–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.105.1.9
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