• BRET;
  • Chagas;
  • IgG;
  • M2 mAChR;
  • receptor–receptor interaction


Circulating immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies against M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (M2 mAChR) have been implicated in Chagas' disease (ChD) pathophysiology. These antibodies bind to and activate their target receptor, displaying agonist-like activity through an unclear mechanism. This study tested the ability of serum anti-M2 mAChR antibodies from chronic ChD patients to modulate M2 muscarinic receptor–receptor interaction by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). Human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells co-expressing fusion proteins M2 mAChR-Renilla luciferase (RLuc) and M2 mAChR-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) were exposed to the serum IgG fraction from ChD patients, and BRET between RLuc and YFP was assessed by luminometry. Unlike serum IgG from healthy subjects and conventional muscarinic ligands, ChD IgG promoted a time- and concentration-dependent increase in the BRET signal. This effect neither required cellular integrity nor occurred as a consequence of receptor activation. Enhancement of M2 receptor–receptor interaction by ChD IgG was receptor subtype-specific and mediated by the recognition of the second extracellular loop of the M2 mAChR. The monovalent Fab fragment derived from ChD IgG was unable to reproduce the effect of the native immunoglobulin. However, addition of ChD Fab in the presence of anti-human Fab IgG restored BRET-enhancing activity. These data suggest that the modulatory effect of ChD IgG on M2 receptor–receptor interaction results from receptor cross-linking by bivalent antibodies.