- Many neuroactive steroids potently and allosterically modulate pentameric ligand-gated ion channels, including GABAA receptors (GABAAR) and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Allopregnanolone and its synthetic analog alphaxalone are GABAAR-positive allosteric modulators (PAMs), whereas alphaxalone and most neuroactive steroids are nAChR inhibitors. In this report, we used 11β-(p-azidotetrafluorobenzoyloxy)allopregnanolone (F4N3Bzoxy-AP), a general anesthetic and photoreactive allopregnanolone analog that is a potent GABAAR PAM, to characterize steroid-binding sites in the Torpedo α2βγδ nAChR in its native membrane environment.
- Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are promising drug targets to manage several neurological disorders and nicotine addiction. Growing evidence indicates that positive allosteric modulators of nAChRs improve pharmacological specificity by binding to unique sites present only in a subpopulation of nAChRs. Furthermore, nAChR positive allosteric modulators such as NS9283 and CMPI have been shown to potentiate responses of (α4)3(β2)2 but not (α4)2(β2)3 nAChR isoforms. This selective potentiation underlines that the α4:α4 interface, which is present only in the (α4)3(β2)2 nAChR, is an important and promising drug target.