Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor solubilization using lipid analog detergents: A key aspect towards receptor crystallization and functional characterization.

The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) is a ligand gated ion channel integral membrane protein of five transmembrane subunits. Its function involves the flow of cations between the intracellular and extracellular environment, as a result induces current transmissions (nervous impulse). Abnormal function of the nAChR’s is related with neurological disorders such as: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Turret’s syndrome, and others. The understanding of secondary and tertiary structure of the nAChRs is necessary to develop specific therapeutics agents to regulate or stimulate its activity. Our efforts involve the development of a comprehensive approach toward the selection of specific detergents for the nAChR crystallization, leading to a high resolution nAChR crystal structure.