The alpha-chain of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor carries the binding sites both for cholinergic ligands and for most experimentally induced or naturally occurring antibodies to the native receptor. By means of expression cloning in Escherichia coli, fusion proteins were derived from specific fragments of a complementary DNA encoding the mouse alpha-chain, allowing the mapping of the toxin-binding site to residues 160-216 and the main immunogenic region to residues 6-85. This approach permits the independent study of different functional domains of a complex receptor molecule and should be generally applicable to other proteins for which complementary DNA clones are available.

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