The human CHRNA5 D398N polymorphism (rs16969968) causes an aspartic acid to asparagine change in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) α5 subunit gene. The N398 variant of CHRNA5 is linked to increased risk for nicotine dependence. In this study, we explored the effect of the CHRNA5 D398N polymorphism on the properties of human α3β4* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells. Addition of either D398 or N398 variant of α5 subunit in the α3β4* receptor did not affect total [125I]-epibatidine binding or surface expression of the receptor. However, addition of α5D398 into α3β4* receptor decreased the maximal response to agonist without significantly affecting EC50 in aequorin intracellular calcium assay. α3β4α5N398 nAChRs showed further decreased maximal response. The differences in agonist efficacy between the receptor subtypes were found to be dependent upon the concentration of external calcium but independent of external sodium. Moreover, activation of α3β4α5 nAChRs led to significantly greater intracellular calcium release from IP3 stores relative to α3β4 nAChRs although no effect of the α5 polymorphism was observed. Finally, inclusion of the α5 variant caused a small shift to the left in IC50 for some of the antagonists tested, depending upon α5 variant but did not affect sensitivity of α3β4* receptors to desensitization in response to incubation with nicotine. In conclusion, addition of either variant of α5 into an α3β4α5 receptor similarly effects receptor pharmacology and function. However, the N398 variant exhibits a reduced response to agonists when extracellular calcium is high and it may lead to distinct downstream cellular signaling. Highlights: Addition of α5 subunit in the α3β4* receptor does not affect surface expression. The maximal agonist-induced calcium response: α3β4α5N < α3β4α5D < α3β4. The differences in the agonist response dependent upon [Ca2+]ext, not [Na +]ext. Activation of α3β4α5 nAChRs induces greater Ca2+ release from IP3 stores than α3β4. Inclusion of the α5 variant did not affect sensitivity of α3β4* nAChRs.
- Alpha5 subunit
- Intracellular calcium
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors