Original Article

Identification and in vitro pharmacological characterization of a novel and selective α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, Br-IQ17B

Jing-shu Tang, Bing-xue Xie, Xi-ling Bian, Yu Xue, Ning-ning Wei, Jing-heng Zhou, Yu-chen Hao, Gang Li, Liang-ren Zhang, Ke-wei Wang
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2015.9


Aim:Alpha7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) is a ligand-gated Ca2+-permeable ion channel implicated in cognition and neuropsychiatric disorders. Activation of α7 nAChR improves learning, memory, and sensory gating in animal models. To identify novel α7 nAChR agonists, we synthesized a series of small molecules and characterized a representative compound, Br-IQ17B, N-[(3R)-1-azabicyclo[2,2,2]oct-3-yl]-5-bromoindolizine-2-carboxamide, which specifically activates α7 nAChR.
Methods:Two-electrode voltage clamp (TEVC) recordings were primarily used for screening in Xenopus oocytes expressing human α7 nAChR. Assays, including radioisotope ligand binding, Western blots, whole-cell recordings of hippocampal culture neurons, and spontaneous IPSC recordings of brain slices, were also utilized to evaluate and confirm the specific activation of α7 nAChR by Br-IQ17B.
Results:Br-IQ17B potently activates α7 nAChR with an EC50 of 1.8±0.2 μmol/L. Br-IQ17B is selective over other subtypes such as α4β2 and α3β4, but it blocks 5-HT3A receptors. Br-IQ17B displaced binding of the α7 blocker [3H]-MLA to hippocampal crude membranes with a Ki of 14.9±3.2 nmol/L. In hippocampal neurons, Br-IQ17B evoked α7-like currents that were inhibited by MLA and enhanced in the presence of the α7 PAM PNU-120596. In brain slice recordings, Br-IQ17B enhanced GABAergic synaptic transmission in CA1 neurons. Mechanistically, Br-IQ17B increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation that was MLA-sensitive.
Conclusion:We identified the novel, potent, and selective α7 agonist Br-IQ17B, which enhances synaptic transmission. Br-IQ17B may be a helpful tool to understand new aspects of α7 nAChR function, and it also has potential for being developed as therapy for schizophrenia and cognitive deficits.
Keywords: α7 nAChR; Br-IQ17B; electrophysiology; ERK1/2 phosphorylation; GABAergic synaptic transmission; CNS diseases

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