Cell-specific effects on surface α7 nicotinic receptor expression revealed by over-expression and knockdown of rat RIC3 protein


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Ralph H. Loring, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 140 The Fenway, Mailstop 148 TF, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. E-mail: r.loring@neu.edu


We tested whether surface α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expression is dependent on an endogenous chaperone named Resistance to Inhibitors of Cholinesterase 3 (RIC3) by comparing RIC3 protein in rat GH4C1 and human SH-EP1 cells, which express strikingly different surface receptor levels following α7 transfection. Cloned rat RIC3 exists in at least two isoforms because of an ambiguous splice site between exons 4 and 5. Both rat isoforms permit surface α7 expression in SH-EP1 and human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells measured by α-bungarotoxin binding. Contrary to expectations, endogenous RIC3 protein expression determined by immunoblots did not differ between untransfected GH4C1 or SH-EP1 cells. siRNA against rat RIC3 exon 4 and shRNA against exons 2, 5 and 6 knocked down transfected rat RIC3 expression in SH-EP1 cells and simultaneously blocked toxin binding. However, no RNAi construct blocked binding when co-transfected with α7 into GH4C1 cells. shRNA against rat exons 2 and 5 knocked down rat RIC3 protein transfected into GH4C1 cells with a time course suggesting a protein half-life of a few days. These results suggest GH4C1 cells may possess unknown chaperone(s) allowing high surface α7 expression in the absence of known RIC3 splice variants.