Nomenclature: α4

Family: Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

Annotation status:  image of a green circle Annotated and expert reviewed. Please contact us if you can help with updates. 

Contents

Gene and Protein Information
Species TM AA Chromosomal Location Gene Symbol Gene Name Reference
Human 4 627 20q13.2-q13.3 CHRNA4 cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha 4 (neuronal) 24
Mouse 4 629 2 H4 Chrna4 cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha polypeptide 4 1
Rat 4 630 3q43 Chrna4 cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha 4 (neuronal) 10
Previous and Unofficial Names
Neuronal, α-bungarotoxin-insensitive
EBN
EBN1
BFNC
cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha polypeptide 4
acetylcholine receptor, nicotinic, alpha 4 (neuronal)
NARAC
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 4 subunit
cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha 4
cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha 4 subunit
neuronal acetylcholine receptor subunit alpha-4
alpha4 nAChR
Acra-4
Acra4
a4 nicotinic receptor
alpha4-nAChR
Database Links
ChEMBL Target
DrugBank Target
Ensembl Gene
Entrez Gene
GeneCards
GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project
HomoloGene
Human Protein Reference Database
InterPro
KEGG Gene
OMIM
Orphanet Gene
PharmGKB Gene
PhosphoSitePlus
Protein Ontology (PRO)
RefSeq Nucleotide
RefSeq Protein
TreeFam
UniGene Hs.
UniProtKB
Wikipedia
Functional Characteristics
α4β2: PCa/PNa = 1.65, Pf = 2.6 – 2.9%; α4β4: Pf = 1.5 – 3.0 %
Natural/Endogenous Ligands
acetylcholine
Commonly used antagonists (Human)
α4β2: DHβE (KB = 0.1 μM; IC50 = 0.08 - 0.9 μM), tubocurarine (KB = 3.2 μM, IC50 = 34 μM); α4β4: DHβE (KB = 0.01 μM, IC50 = 0.19 – 1.2 μM), tubocurarine (KB = 0.2 μM, IC50 = 50 μM)
Agonists
Key to terms and symbols View all chemical structures Click column headers to sort
Ligand Sp. Action Affinity Units Reference
[3H]epibatidine Hs Full agonist 9.73 – 11.0 pKd
pKd 11.0 – 10.48 (Kd 1x10-11 – 3.3x10-11 M) α4β2
pKd 9.73 (Kd 1.87x10-10 M) α4β4
[125I]epibatidine Hs Full agonist 9.73 – 11.0 pKd
pKd 11.0 – 10.48 (Kd 1x10-11 – 3.3x10-11 M) α4β2
pKd 9.73 (Kd 1.87x10-10 M) α4β4
[3H]cytisine Rn Full agonist 10.0 pKd
pKd 10.0 (Kd 1x10-10 M) α4β2
[3H]cytisine Hs Full agonist 9.37 – 10.0 pKd
pKd 10.0 (Kd 1x10-10 M) α4β4
pKd 9.37 – 9.2 (Kd 4.3x10-10 – 6.3x10-10 M) α4β2
[3H]nicotine Rn Full agonist 9.4 pKd
pKd 9.4 (Kd 4x10-10 M) α4β2
[3H]epibatidine Rn Full agonist 9.07 – 9.52 pKd
pKd 9.52 – 9.34 (Kd 3x10-10 – 4.6x10-10 M) α4β2
pKd 9.07 – 9.03 (Kd 8.5x10-10 – 9.4x10-10 M) α4β4
[125I]epibatidine Rn Full agonist 9.03 – 9.34 pKd
pKd 9.52 – 9.34 (Kd 3x10-10 – 4.6x10-10 M) α4β2
pKd 9.07 – 9.03 (Kd 8.5x10-10 – 9.4x10-10 M) α4β4
varenicline Hs Agonist 6.62 pKi 6
pKi 6.62 (Ki 2.4x10-7 M) [6]
Description: Binding affinity to human nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α4β2 expressed in IMR32 cells using [3H]epibatidine radioligand.
TC-2403 Hs Full agonist - - 25
α4β2 [25]
TC-2559 Hs Full agonist - - 4
α4β2 [4]
View species-specific agonist tables
Agonist Comments
We have tagged the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α4 subunit as the primary drug target for varenicline, but note that the interaction is with the α4β2 heteromer, and binding site is not identified.
Channel Blockers
Key to terms and symbols View all chemical structures Click column headers to sort
Ligand Sp. Action Use-dependent Affinity Units Concentration range (M) Voltage-dependent (mV) Reference
mecamylamine Hs - no 5.31 – 6.48 pIC50 - no
pIC50 6.48 – 5.31 (IC50 3.3x10-7 – 4.9x10-6 M) α4β4
Not voltage dependent
pIC50 5.44 – 5.39 (IC50 3.6x10-6 – 4.1x10-6 M) α4β2
Not voltage dependent
hexamethonium Hs - no 4.04 – 4.54 pIC50 - no
pIC50 5.17 – 4.54 (IC50 6.8x10-6 – 2.9x10-5 M) α4β2
Not voltage dependent
pIC50 4.04 (IC50 9.1x10-5 M) α4β4
Not voltage dependent
NS1738 Hs - no - - - no 37
α4β2 [37]
Not voltage dependent
A-867744 Hs - no - - - no 20
α4β2 [20]
Not voltage dependent
Allosteric Modulators
Key to terms and symbols View all chemical structures Click column headers to sort
Ligand Sp. Action Affinity Units Concentration range (M) Voltage-dependent (mV) Reference
NS9283 Hs Positive - - - no 18
α4β2 and α4β4 [18]
Not voltage dependent
LY2087101 Hs Positive - - - no 2
potentiates α4β2 and α4β4 [2]
Not voltage dependent
Tissue Distribution
Brain:-
High levels of expression in most thalamic nuclei, although deeper layers of cortex (IV-VI) express much more α4 mRNA that the more superficial layers. Expression is very dense in the substantia nigra pars compacta and ventral tegmental area. In contrast to rat, significant expression is observed in locus coeruleus of the mouse. α4 mRNA is also prominent in the hindbrain, with particularly strong signal in the dorsal tegmental nucleus. α4 mRNA expression is quite low in the caudate putamen, hippocampus (except for subiculum), and cerebellum.
Expression level:  High
Species:  Mouse
Technique:  in situ hybridisation
References:  21
Brain:-
Binding studies in wild-type mice (e.g. with [3H]-cytisine, [3H]- or [125I]-epibatidine or [3H]-nicotine) detect high levels of binding sites in thalamic nuclei, medial habenula, interpeduncular nucleus, superior colliculus and presubiculum. Moderate levels are detected in the cortex, caudate-putamen and fasciculus retroflexus. Most of these binding sites are lost in α4 knockout mice but [3H]-nicotine and [3H]-epibatidine binding is still detected at high levels in the medial habenula and interpeduncular nucleus. Also, low levels of binding are detected in the substantia nigra, superior colliculus and fasciculus retroflexus. Knockout mice show decreased binding of [125I]α−conotoxin MII in the mesolimbic (ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens , lateral habenula) and visual pathways (olivary pretectal nucleus, dorsal and ventral lateral geniculate nuclei and superior colliculus).
Species:  Mouse
Technique:  Radioligand binding
References:  22-23,28
Brain:-
Immunoprecipitation studies from wild-type and α4 knockout mice have confirmed the presence of α4-containing receptors in the cortex, thalamus, hippocampus, retina, superior colliculus, nucleus geniculate lateralis, habenula, nucleus interpeduncularis, mesencephalon and striatum. α4–containing receptors are also expressed at early developmental stages in superior cervical ganglia.
Species:  Mouse
Technique:  immunoprecipitation, radioligand binding
References:  3,11-13,30
Brain:-
Immunolocalisation studies of wild-type and α4 knockout mice confirmed significant variations in the levels of α4 subunit in different brain regions. Comparison with β2 mAb immunostaining in wild-type and knockout mice demonstrated that the expression of α4 subunits is almost universally dependent on the expression of β2 subunits.
Expression level:  High
Species:  Mouse
Technique:  immunohistochemistry (immunolocalisation)
References:  39
Brain:-
Widely expressed with intense expression in thalamus and cerebral cortex.
Expression level:  High
Species:  Rat
Technique:  in situ hybridisation
References:  10
Tissue Distribution Comments
Using in situ hybridisation research reveals that in rhesus monkey α4 mRNA distribution in brain is similar to redents:- high expression in thalamic nuclei, substantia nigra pars compacta and ventral tegmental area, lesser expression in cortex (layer VI showing the most intense labeling) and little labeling in hippocampus and caudate [14]. However in squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), the expression pattern differs markedly from that of either rodents or macaques. Expression in the thalamus is quite low relative to cortex, as is labeling in the substantia nigra pars compacta and the medial habenula. Expression in caudate, putamen, and hippocampus is relatively high [27].
Physiological Consequences of Altering Gene Expression
Knock-in mice containing an L9’A mutation in the second transmembrane domain are hypersensitive to activation by nicotine (in contrast to L9'S mice, homozygous L9'A mice are viable and fertile). Mutant mice are nearly 100 times more sensitive to nicotine-induced hypothermia than wild-type mice. They are more sensitive to nicotine-induced seizures and sleep disruptions. nAChRs in the preBötzinger complex are hypersensitive to nicotine and have altered nicotinic modulation of respiratory rhythm.
Species:  Mouse
Tissue:  in vivo
Technique:  Knock-in
References:  8,31,34-35
Knockout mice lack high-affinity nicotine binding in the brain; absence of nicotine-induced release of dopamine; reduced antinociceptive effect of nicotine; enhanced exploratory behavior and evidence of enhanced anxiety; enhanced sensitivity to seizures induced by GABA receptor blockers.
Species:  Mouse
Tissue:  in vivo
Technique:  Knockout (homologous recombination)
References:  22-23,28,40
Homozygous knock-in mice containing an L9’S mutation in the second transmembrane domain are not viable. Mice expressing a single α4 L9’S subunit are approximately 8-fold more sensitive more sensitive to nicotine-induced seizures than their wild-type littermates. The L9'S mice also show increased EEG and theta rhythm activity following nicotine injection.
Species:  Mouse
Tissue:  in vivo
Technique:  Knock-in
References:  9,17
Knock-in mice with either of two mutations (S252F or +L264) associated with autosomal dominant frontal lobe epilepsy exhibit frequent spontaneous seizures and increased sensitivity to the proconvulsant action of nicotine.
Species:  Mouse
Tissue:  in vivo
Technique:  Knock-in
References:  16
Knock-in mice containing an S248 mutation associated with autosomal dominant fromtal lobe epilepsy display responses to nicotine resembling a dystonal arousal complex.
Species:  Mouse
Tissue:  in vivo
Technique:  Knock-in
References:  36
Transgenic rats containing an S284L mutation associated with nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy show attenuation of synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAergic transmission and exhibit the nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy phenotype.
Species:  Rat
Tissue: 
Technique:  Transgenesis
References:  41
Clinically-Relevant Mutations and Pathophysiology
Disease:  Sporadic nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
OMIM:  600513
References:  5
Click column headers to sort
Type Species Molecular location Description Reference
Missense Human S256L (S252L, C755T) 15,26
Disease:  Sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
OMIM:  105400
References:  29
Click column headers to sort
Type Species Molecular location Description Reference
Missense Human M3-M4 intracellular loop 29
Disease:  Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
OMIM:  600513
Orphanet:  98784
References:  15,19,26,32-33,38
Click column headers to sort
Type Species Molecular location Description Reference
Insertion Human 263insL (788insGCT, 776ins3) 32
Missense Human S252F (S248F) 33,38
Missense Human S256L (S252L, C755T) 15,26
Missense Human T265I 19
Missense Human R308H 5
Clinically-Relevant Mutations and Pathophysiology Comments
The nomenclature of α4 subunit mutations associated with nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy has been inconsistent (for further details see Duga et al. 2002 [7]). Alternative nomenclature is given in parenthesis.

REFERENCES

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39. Whiteaker P, Cooper JF, Salminen O, Marks MJ, McClure-Begley TD, Brown RW, Collins AC, Lindstrom JM. (2006) Immunolabeling demonstrates the interdependence of mouse brain alpha4 and beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit expression. J. Comp. Neurol.499 (6): 1016-38. [PMID:17072836]

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To cite this database page, please use the following:

Cecilia Gotti, Michael. J. Marks, Neil S. Millar, Susan Wonnacott.
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: α4. Last modified on 02/05/2014. Accessed on 25/10/2014. IUPHAR database (IUPHAR-DB), http://www.iuphar-db.org/DATABASE/ObjectDisplayForward?objectId=465.

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