Identification and Functional Characterization of a Novel Acetylcholine-Binding Protein from the Marine Annelid <i>Capitella teleta</i>

We identified a homologue of the molluscan acetylcholine-binding protein (AChBP) in the marine polychaete <i>Capitella teleta</i>, from the annelid phylum. The amino acid sequence of <i>C. teleta</i> AChBP (ct-AChBP) is 21−30% identical with those of known molluscan AChBPs. Sequence alignments indicate that ct-AChBP has a shortened Cys loop compared to other Cys loop receptors, and a variation on a conserved Cys loop triad, which is associated with ligand binding in other AChBPs and nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) α subunits. Within the D loop of ct-AChBP, a conserved aromatic residue (Tyr or Trp) in nAChRs and molluscan AChBPs, which has been implicated directly in ligand binding, is substituted with an isoleucine. Mass spectrometry results indicate that Asn122 and Asn216 of ct-AChBP are glycosylated when expressed using HEK293 cells. Small-angle X-ray scattering data suggest that the overall shape of ct-AChBP in the apo or unliganded state is similar to that of homologues with known pentameric crystal structures. NMR experiments show that acetylcholine, nicotine, and α-bungarotoxin bind to ct-AChBP with high affinity, with <i>K</i><sub>D</sub> values of 28.7 μM, 209 nM, and 110 nM, respectively. Choline bound with a lower affinity (<i>K</i><sub>D</sub> = 163 μM). Our finding of a functional AChBP in a marine annelid demonstrates that AChBPs may exhibit variations in hallmark motifs such as ligand-binding residues and Cys loop length and shows conclusively that this neurotransmitter binding protein is not limited to the phylum Mollusca.