High affinity binding of epibatidine to serotonin type 3 receptors

Renaldo C. Drisdel, Douglas Sharp, Tricia N Henderson, Tim G. Hales, William N. Green

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Epibatidine and mecamylamine are ligands used widely in the study of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In the present study, we find that nicotine blocks only 75% of 125I-epibatidine binding to rat brain membranes, whereas ligands specific for serotonin type 3 receptors (5-HT3Rs) block the remaining 25%. 125I-Epibatidine binds with a high affinity to native 5-HT 3Rs of N1E-115 cells and to receptors composed of only 5-HT 3A subunits expressed in HEK cells. In these cells, serotonin, the 5-HT3R-specific antagonist MDL72222, and the 5-HT3R agonist chlorophenylbiguanide readily competed with 125I-epibatidine binding to 5-HT3Rs. Nicotine was a poor competitor for 125I-epibatidine binding to 5-HT3Rs. However, the noncompetitive nAChR antagonist mecamylamine acted as a potent competitive inhibitor of 125I-epibatidine binding to 5-HT3Rs. Epibatidine inhibited serotonin-induced currents mediated by endogenous 5-HT3Rs in neuroblastoma cell lines and 5-HT3ARs expressed in HEK cells in a competitive manner. Our results demonstrate that 5-HT 3Rs are previously uncharacterized high affinity epibatidine binding sites in the brain and indicate that epibatidine and mecamylamine act as 5-HT3R antagonists. Previous studies that depended on epibatidine and mecamylamine as nAChR-specific ligands, in particular studies of analgesic properties of epibatidine, may need to be reinterpreted with respect to the potential role of 5-HT3Rs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9659-9665
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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