Acetylcholine receptor: complex of homologous subunits
The acetylcholine receptor from the electric ray Torpedo californica is composed of five subunits; two are identical and the other three are structurally related to them. Microsequence analysis of the four polypeptides demonstrates amino acid homology among the subunits. Further sequence analysis of both membrane-bound and Triton-solubilized, chromatographically purified receptor gave the stoichiometry of the four subunits (40,000:50,000:60,000:65,000 daltons) as 2:1:1:1, indicating that this protein is a pentameric complex with a molecular weight of 255,000 daltons. Genealogical analysis suggests that divergence from a common ancestral gene occurred early in the evolution of the receptor. This shared ancestry argues that each of the four subunits plays a functional role in the receptor's physiological action.