Evolution of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits

Kazuhisa Tsunoyama, Takashi Gojobori*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


A phylogenetic tree of a gene family of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits was constructed using 84 nucleotide sequences of receptor subunits from 18 different species in order to elucidate the evolutionary origin of receptor subunits. The tree constructed showed that the common ancestor of all subunits may have appeared first in the nervous system. Moreover, we suggest that the α1 subunits in the muscle system originated from the common ancestor of α2, α3, α4, α5, α6, and β3 in the nervous system, whereas the β1, γ, δ, and ε subunits in the muscle system shared a common ancestor with the β2 and β4 subunits in the nervous system. Using the ratio (f) of the number of nonsynonymous substitutions to that of synonymous substitutions, we predicted the functional importance of subunits. We found that the α1 and α7 subunits had the lowest f values in the muscle and nervous systems, respectively, indicating that very strong functional constraints work on these subunits. This is consistent with the fact that the α1 subunit has sites binding to the ligand, and the α7- containing receptor regulates the release of the transmitter. Moreover, the window analysis of the f values showed that strong functional constraints work on the so-called M2 region in all five types of muscle subunits. Thus, the window analysis of the f values is useful for evaluating the degree of functional constraints in not only the entire gene region, but also the within-gene subregion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-527
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetylcholine receptor
  • Evolution
  • Functional constraints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this