In contrast to plasma membrane-expressed nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), mitochondrial nAChRs function in an ion-independent manner by triggering intra-mitochondrial kinases that regulate the release of cytochrome c (Cyt c), an important step in cellular apoptosis. The aim of this study is to determine the structural requirements for mitochondrial α3β4* nAChR activation by measuring the modulatory effects of two noncompetitive antagonists of these receptors, (+)-catharanthine and (±)-18-methoxycoronaridine [(±)-18-MC], on Cyt c release from wild-type and α7−/− mice mitochondria. The sandwich ELISA results indicated that α3β4* nAChRs are present in liver mitochondria in higher amounts compared to that in brain mitochondria and that these receptors are up-regulated in α7−/− mice. Correspondingly, (±)-18-MC decreased Cyt c release from liver mitochondria of wild-type mice and from brain and liver mitochondria of α7−/− mice. The effect in wild-type mice mitochondria was mediated mainly by the Src-dependent pathway, regulating the apoptogenic activity of reactive oxygen species, while in α7−/− mice mitochondria, (±)-18-MC strongly affected the calcium-calmodulin kinase II-dependent pathway. In contrast, (+)-catharanthine was much less potent than (±)-18-MC and triggered several signaling pathways, suggesting the involvement of multiple nAChR subtypes. These results show for the first time that noncompetitive antagonists can induce mitochondrial α3β4* nAChR signaling, giving a more comprehensive understanding on the function of intracellular nAChR subtypes.
- Coronaridine congeners
- Mitochondria-driven apoptosis
- Mitochondrial nicotinic acetylcholine receptors