Conversion of the sodium channel activator aconitine into a potent alpha 7-selective nicotinic ligand.
Hardick DJ., Cooper G., Scott-Ward T., Blagbrough IS., Potter BV., Wonnacott S.
Methyllycaconitine (MLA) is a competitive antagonist of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, with a remarkable preference for neuronal [125I]alpha Bgt binding sites. We have begun to investigate the structural basis of its potency and subtype selectivity. MLA is a substituted norditerpenoid alkaloid linked to a 2-(methylsuccinimido)benzoyl moiety. Hydrolysis of the ester bond in MLA to produce lycoctonine diminished affinity for rat brain [125I]alpha Bgt binding sites 2500-fold and abolished affinity for [3H]nicotine and muscle [125I]alpha Bgt binding sites. The voltage-gated Na+ channel activator aconitine, also a norditerpenoid alkaloid, but with significant structural differences from lycoctonine, displayed comparable weak or absent nicotinic activity. Addition of a 2-(methylsuccinimido)benzoyl sidechain to O-demethylated aconitine, to mimic MLA, abolished Na+ channel activation and conferred nanomolar affinity for brain [125I]alpha Bgt binding sites, comparable to that of MLA. We propose that the ester-linked 2-(methylsuccinimido)benzoyl group is necessary for nicotinic potency, but alpha 7 selectivity resides in the norditerpenoid core of the molecule.