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Published September 1983 | Published
Journal Article Open

Transmembrane orientation of an early biosynthetic form of acetylcholine receptor delta subunit determined by proteolytic dissection in conjunction with monoclonal antibodies


The transmembrane topology of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) delta subunit, synthesized in vitro and co-translationally integrated into dog pancreas rough microsomal membranes, was studied using limited proteolysis and domain-specific immunoprecipitation. Forty-four kilodaltons (kd) of the 65-kd delta subunit comprise a single fragment that is inaccessible to exhaustive proteolytic digestion from the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane by trypsin, chymotrypsin, thermolysin, and pronase. Previously, we have shown that this 44-kd "protected" fragment contains the amino terminus of the intact molecule and all of the core oligosaccharides (Anderson, D.J., P. Walter, and G. Blobel (1982) J. Cell Biol. 93: 501–506). Here we demonstrate that this domain can be further dissected into a 26-kd fragment, together with low molecular weight material, when the membranes are rendered permeable to trypsin by low concentrations of deoxycholate (Kreibich, G., P. Debey, and D. D. Sabatini (1973) J. Cell Biol. 58: 436–462). This 26-kd fragment contains all of the core oligosaccharides present on the intact subunit and therefore constitutes at least part, if not all, of the extracellular domain. The remaining low molecular weight material may derive from the membrane-embedded domain; our data imply that as much as 18 kd may be internal to the lipid bilayer. On the other hand, part of the cytoplasmic pole of AChR-delta can be recovered as a discrete, 12-kd fragment upon mild trypsinization of intact vesicles. We have used this 12-kd fragment to identify anti-AChR-delta monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that react with the cytoplasmic domain of this subunit. Partial proteolytic fragmentation of the AChR in vitro translation products, in topologically well defined rough microsomes, may be used as a general assay to characterize the domain specificity of anti-AChR mAbs. For example, in the case of AChR-beta, we were able to identify two mAbs that recognize extracellular and cytoplasmic fragments, respectively.

Additional Information

© 1983 Society for Neuroscience. Beginning six months after publication the Work will be made freely available to the public on SfN's website to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Received January 10, 1983; Accepted March 31, 1983. We thank Dr. Reid Gilmore for helpful discussions and a critical reading of the manuscript, Dr. Arthur Karlin for his comments on an early draft, and Drs. Toni Claudio and Steven Heinemann for making their results available to us prior to publication. Supported by a grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.

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