Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Rae Nishi


Prototoxin proteins have been identified as members of the Ly6/uPAR super family whose three-finger motif resembles that of α-bungarotoxin. Though they are known to modify the function of nAChRs, their specificity is still unclear. Our lab identified three prototoxin proteins in the chicken ciliary ganglion: Ch3ly, Ch5ly, and Ch6ly. Ch6ly was later identified as prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA), and specifically decreased the amount of calcium influx through the homomeric α7 nAChR subtype. I then identifiedCh3ly and Ch5ly as LY6E and LYPD6B, respectively. I focused my attention onLYPD6B because of its expression in the brain. This dissertation tests whether LYPD6Bis a prototoxin protein that specifically co-localizes with and modifies the function of the heteromeric α3β4* nAChRs (the other nAChR subtype expressed in the chicken ciliary ganglia). In the first part of my dissertation I performed intracellular two-electrode voltage clamp on Xenopus oocytes co-expressing human LYPD6B and different stoichiometries of the α3β4* nAChR, these included two (α3)2(β4)3 withβ4−α3−β4−β4−α3 and β4−α3−β4−α3−β4 stoichiometries, two (α3)3(β4)2 with stoichiometries β4−α3−α3−β4−α3 and β4−α3−β4−α3−α3, two (α3β4)2(α5D)β4−α3−α5D−β4−α3 and β4−α3−β4−α3−α5D, and (α3β4)2(α5N) with stoichiometries β4−α3−α5N−β4−α3 and β4−α3−β4−α3−α5N. Concatemeric constructs are designed to link nAChR subunits, thus when translated it is done so as a single polypeptide. LYPD6Bincreased the acetylcholine (ACh) potency and desensitization rate, but decreased the maximum current response (Imax) for the (α3)3(β4)2 nAChR subtype. Yet, LYPD6Bonly decreased the Imax for the (α3β4)2α5 D-variant and not the N-variant (associated with increase nicotine consumption). For the second part of my dissertation, I determined if the expression of LYPD6B correlated with nAChRs in an activity dependent manner. Though LYPD6B mRNA expression correlates with nAChR subunit mRNA expression levels, it seemed to be independent of nAChR activity. To determine if fluorescent colocalization occurs between LYPD6B and a specific nAChR subtype, I genetically engineered LYPD6B to express a human influenza hemagglutinin (HA) epitope tag and cloned into a chicken retrovirus. LYPD6B was shown to co-localize only with the α3β4*heteromeric and not the homomeric α7 nAChRs, in a nAChR activity dependent manner. This study adds to the complexity of a prototoxin’s function by suggesting that the specificity is dependent on nAChR type and stoichiometry. It is the first in identifying a prototoxin protein, LYPD6B, which specifically modulates the function of the(α3)3(β4)2 and (α3β4)2(α5 D-variant) heteromeric nAChR subtypes. For the (α3β4)2(α5D-variant) nAChR subtype LYPD6B decreased the Imax. Such observation may be telling of a novel mechanism involved with nicotine dependence. For the(α3)3(β4)2 nAChR subtype LYPD6B increases its ACh sensitivity, desensitization rate, while decreasing Imax. Additionally, the co-localization of LYPD6B and α3β4* nAChRsin the lack of nAChR activity highlights the relevance of the functional effects α3β4*nAChRs exhibit due to LYPD6B. Such relevance may be the utilization of limiting Ach amounts.



Number of Pages

178 p.