Acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP) has recently been identified from molluskan glial cells. Glial cells secrete it into cholinergic synapses, where it plays a role in modulating synaptic transmission. This novel mechanism resembles glia-dependent modulation of glutamate synapses, with several key differences. AChBP is a homolog of the ligand binding domain of the pentameric ligand-gated ion-channels. The crystal structure of AChBP provides the first high-resolution structure for this family of Cys-loop receptors. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and related ion-channels such as GABA, serotonin 5HT, and glycine can be interpreted in the light of the 2.7 Å AChBP structure. The structural template provides critical details of the binding site and helps create models for toxin binding, mutational effects, and molecular gating.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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