Christopher I Richards

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States

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Publications (8)43.11 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: GPI-anchored neurotoxin-like receptor binding proteins, such as lynx modulators, are topologically positioned to exert pharmacological effects by binding to the extracellular portion of nAChRs. These actions are generally thought to proceed when both lynx and the nAChRs are on the plasma membrane. Here, we demonstrate that lynx1 also exerts effects on α4β2 nAChRs within the endoplasmic reticulum. Lynx1 affects assembly of nascent α4 and β2 subunits, and alters the stoichiometry of the population that reaches the plasma membrane. Additionally, these data suggest that lynx1 shifts nAChR stoichiometry to low sensitivity (α4)3 (β2)2 pentamers primarily through this interaction in the endoplasmic reticulum, rather than solely via direct modulation of activity on the plasma membrane To our knowledge, these data represent the first test of the hypothesis that a lynx family member, or indeed any GPI-anchored protein, could act within the cell to alter assembly of multi-subunit protein.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2014; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic exposure to nicotine up-regulates high sensitivity nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain. This up-regulation partially underlies addiction and may also contribute to protection against Parkinson's disease. nAChRs containing the α6 subunit (α6* nAChRs) are expressed in neurons in several brain regions, but comparatively little is known about the effect of chronic nicotine on these nAChRs. We report here that nicotine up-regulates α6* nAChRs in several mouse brain regions (substantia nigra pars compacta, ventral tegmental area, medial habenula, and superior colliculus) and in neuroblastoma 2a cells. We present evidence that a coat protein complex I (COPI)-mediated process mediates this up-regulation of α6* or α4* nAChRs but does not participate in basal trafficking. We show that α6β2β3 nAChR up-regulation is prevented by mutating a putative COPI-binding motif in the β3 subunit or by inhibiting COPI. Similarly, a COPI-dependent process is required for up-regulation of α4β2 nAChRs by chronic nicotine but not for basal trafficking. Mutation of the putative COPI-binding motif or inhibition of COPI also results in reduced normalized Förster resonance energy transfer between α6β2β3 nAChRs and εCOP subunits. The discovery that nicotine exploits a COPI-dependent process to chaperone high sensitivity nAChRs is novel and suggests that this may be a common mechanism in the up-regulation of nAChRs in response to chronic nicotine.
    The Journal of General Physiology 01/2014; 143(1):51-66. · 4.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We exploit the optical and spatial features of subwavelength nanostructures to examine individual receptors on the plasma membrane of living cells. Receptors were sequestered in portions of the membrane projected into zero-mode waveguides. Using single-step photobleaching of green fluorescent protein incorporated into individual subunits, the resulting spatial isolation was used to measure subunit stoichiometry in α4β4 and α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine and P2X2 ATP receptors. We also show that nicotine and cytisine have differential effects on α4β2 stoichiometry.
    Nano Letters 06/2012; 12(7):3690-4. · 13.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the first observation that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) can decrease when a central nervous system drug acts as an intracellular pharmacological chaperone for its classic receptor. Transient expression of α4β2 nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) in Neuro-2a cells induced the nuclear translocation of activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), which is part of the UPR. Cells were exposed for 48 h to the full agonist nicotine, the partial agonist cytisine, or the competitive antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine; we also tested mutant nAChRs that readily exit the ER. Each of these four manipulations increased Sec24D-enhanced green fluorescent protein fluorescence of condensed ER exit sites and attenuated translocation of ATF6-enhanced green fluorescent protein to the nucleus. However, we found no correlation among the manipulations regarding other tested parameters [i.e., changes in nAChR stoichiometry (α4(2)β2(3) versus α4(3)β2(2)), changes in ER and trans-Golgi structures, or the degree of nAChR up-regulation at the plasma membrane]. The four manipulations activated 0 to 0.4% of nAChRs, which shows that activation of the nAChR channel did not underlie the reduced ER stress. Nicotine also attenuated endogenously expressed ATF6 translocation and phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α in mouse cortical neurons transfected with α4β2 nAChRs. We conclude that, when nicotine accelerates ER export of α4β2 nAChRs, this suppresses ER stress and the UPR. Suppression of a sustained UPR may explain the apparent neuroprotective effect that causes the inverse correlation between a person's history of tobacco use and susceptibility to developing Parkinson's disease. This suggests a novel mechanism for neuroprotection by nicotine.
    Molecular pharmacology 02/2012; 81(6):759-69. · 4.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We provide a theory for employing Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) measurements to determine altered heteropentameric ion channel stoichiometries in intracellular compartments of living cells. We simulate FRET within nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) whose α4 and β2 subunits contain acceptor and donor fluorescent protein moieties, respectively, within the cytoplasmic loops. We predict FRET and normalized FRET (NFRET) for the two predominant stoichiometries, (α4) 3 (β2) 2 vs. (α4) 2 (β2) 3 . Studying the ratio between FRET or NFRET for the two stoichiometries, minimizes distortions due to various photophysical uncertainties. Within a range of assumptions concerning the distance between fluorophores, deviations from plane pentameric geometry, and other asymmetries, the predicted FRET and NFRET for (α4) 3 (β2) 2 exceeds that of (α4) 2 (β2) 3 . The simulations account for published data on transfected Neuro2a cells in which α4β2 stoichiometries were manipulated by varying fluorescent subunit cDNA ratios: NFRET decreased monotonically from (α4) 3 (β2) 2 stoichiometry to mostly (α4) 2 (β2) 3 . The simulations also account for previous macroscopic and single-channel observations that pharmacological chaperoning by nicotine and cytisine increase the (α4) 2 (β2) 3 and (α4) 3 (β2) 2 populations, respectively. We also analyze sources of variability. NFRET-based 10023 monitoring of changes in subunit stoichiometry can contribute usefully to studies on Cys-loop receptors.
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences 01/2012; 13:10022-10040. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the first observation that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) can decrease when a central nervous system drug acts as an intracellular pharmacological chaperone for its classical receptor. Transient expression of α4β2 nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) in Neuro-2a cells induced the nuclear translocation of activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), part of the UPR. Cells were exposed for 48 hr either to the full agonist nicotine, the partial agonist cytisine, or the competitive antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine. We also tested mutant nAChRs, which readily exit the ER. Each of these four manipulations increased Sec24D-eGFP fluorescence of condensed ER exit sites and also attenuated translocation of ATF6-eGFP to the nucleus. However, we found no correlation among the manipulations for other tested parameters: changes in nAChR stoichiometry ((α4)(2)(β2)(3) vs (α4)(3)(β2)(2)), changes in ER and trans-Golgi structure, or degree of nAChR upregulation at the plasma membrane. The four manipulations activated zero to 0.4% of nAChRs, showing that activation of the nAChR channel did not underlie the reduced ER stress. Nicotine also attenuated endogenously expressed ATF6 translocation and phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α in mouse cortical neurons transfected with α4β2 nAChRs. We conclude that when nicotine accelerates ER export of α4β2 nAChRs, this suppresses ER stress and the UPR. Suppression of a sustained UPR may explain the apparent neuroprotective effect that causes the inverse correlation between a person's history of tobacco use and susceptibility to developing Parkinson's disease. This suggests a novel mechanism for neuroprotection by nicotine.
    Molecular Pharmacology 01/2012; · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We employed a pH-sensitive GFP analog, superecliptic phluorin, to observe aspects of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) trafficking to the plasma membrane (PM) in cultured mouse cortical neurons. The experiments exploit differences in the pH among endoplasmic reticulum (ER), trafficking vesicles, and the extracellular solution. The data confirm that few α4β4 nAChRs, but many α4β2 nAChRs, remain in neutral intracellular compartments, mostly the ER. We observed fusion events between nAChR-containing vesicles and PM; these could be quantified in the dendritic processes. We also studied the β4R348C polymorphism, linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This mutation depressed fusion rates of α4β4 receptor-containing vesicles with the PM by ∼2-fold, with only a small decrease in the number of nAChRs per vesicle. The mutation also decreased the number of ER exit sites, showing that the reduced receptor insertion results from a change at an early stage in trafficking. We confirm the previous report that the mutation leads to reduced agonist-induced currents; in the cortical neurons studied, the reduction amounts to 2–3-fold. Therefore, the reduced agonist-induced currents are caused by the reduced number of α4β4-containing vesicles reaching the membrane. Chronic nicotine exposure (0.2 μm) did not alter the PM insertion frequency or trafficking behavior of α4β4-laden vesicles. In contrast, chronic nicotine substantially increased the number of α4β2-containing vesicle fusions at the PM; this stage in α4β2 nAChR up-regulation is presumably downstream from increased ER exit. Superecliptic phluorin provides a tool to monitor trafficking dynamics of nAChRs in disease and addiction.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2011; 286(36):31241-31249. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We employed a pH-sensitive GFP analog, superecliptic phluorin, to observe aspects of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) trafficking to the plasma membrane (PM) in cultured mouse cortical neurons. The experiments exploit differences in the pH among endoplasmic reticulum (ER), trafficking vesicles, and the extracellular solution. The data confirm that few α4β4 nAChRs, but many α4β2 nAChRs, remain in neutral intracellular compartments, mostly the ER. We observed fusion events between nAChR-containing vesicles and PM; these could be quantified in the dendritic processes. We also studied the β4R348C polymorphism, linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This mutation depressed fusion rates of α4β4 receptor-containing vesicles with the PM by ∼2-fold, with only a small decrease in the number of nAChRs per vesicle. The mutation also decreased the number of ER exit sites, showing that the reduced receptor insertion results from a change at an early stage in trafficking. We confirm the previous report that the mutation leads to reduced agonist-induced currents; in the cortical neurons studied, the reduction amounts to 2-3-fold. Therefore, the reduced agonist-induced currents are caused by the reduced number of α4β4-containing vesicles reaching the membrane. Chronic nicotine exposure (0.2 μM) did not alter the PM insertion frequency or trafficking behavior of α4β4-laden vesicles. In contrast, chronic nicotine substantially increased the number of α4β2-containing vesicle fusions at the PM; this stage in α4β2 nAChR up-regulation is presumably downstream from increased ER exit. Superecliptic phluorin provides a tool to monitor trafficking dynamics of nAChRs in disease and addiction.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(36):31241-9. · 4.65 Impact Factor