Two distinct kinetic phases of desensitization of acetylcholine receptors of clonal rat PC12 cells


Norman D. Boyd

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Physiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Cell Line; Clone Cells; Ion Channels; Kinetics; Parasympathomimetics; Receptors, Cholinergic; Sodium; Temperature


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


1. The desensitization of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on the PC12 sympathetic cell line was investigated by using a 22Na+ influx assay to measure receptor activation. 2. The rate of desensitization was dependent on temperature and at 4 degrees C two distinct kinetic phases were readily discernible: a rapid phase that was characterized by rate constants that were dependent on the chemical nature and concentration of the agonist, and a slower phase that was characterized by rate constants that were less dependent on these. 3. For acetylcholine, carbamylcholine and l-nicotine, the equilibrium desensitization parameter, Kdes, the concentration that produces half-maximal desensitization, was determined and compared with the corresponding value for Kact, the concentration that results in a half-maximal increase in the permeability response. For each agonist, the value of Kdes was found to be lower than Kact, a result to be expected if desensitization is associated with a higher-affinity state of the receptor than that associated with ion channel activation. Thus, extensive receptor desensitization can occur even at agonist concentrations that do not produce appreciable channel activation. Both activation and desensitization functions exhibited positive cooperativity so that each function occurs over a narrow range of agonist concentrations. 4. Following removal of the agonist, recovery from desensitization was reversible and occurred by two distinct kinetic phases characterized by rate constants that were independent of the chemical nature and concentration of the agonist that produced the desensitization. The relative contribution of each kinetic phase of recovery was, however, dependent on the duration of prior exposure to agonist. Following short incubation periods with agonist, most of the receptors were in a rapidly recovering state. With increasing duration of exposure, progressively more of the receptors were converted to a desensitized state that recovered more slowly. 5. The rate constants associated with the two kinetic phases of recovery were dependent on the recovery temperature. Following the initial rapid phase of desensitization, recovery at 4 degrees C was characterized by a time constant, t1/2, of 1.9 min, a value that was about 3-fold greater than that observed at 22 degrees C. The rate of recovery of the desensitized state achieved following equilibrium exposures to agonists was considerably more temperature dependent: recovery of this desensitized state was characterized at 4 degrees C by a t1/2 of 62 min that was about 37-fold greater than that at 22 degrees C.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


J Physiol. 1987 Aug;389:45-67.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of physiology

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