Acetylcholine receptor (AChR), also named cholinergic receptor, is a membrane protein that responds to the binding of a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It consists of a pentamer (subunit composition) and presents in the cluster on muscle-cell membranes opposite the active zone of presynaptic terminals. This receptor is an ion channel spanning the membrane and contains an extracellular, transmembrane and cytoplasmic domain, the latter part being the most variable. The density of AChR at the receptor region is between 7,000-30,000 sites per square micrometer. It is located basically over the peaks of postsynaptic folds and appears at a high density.
Acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) are divided into two subtypes that bind acetylcholine and transmit their signals, muscarinic (mAChR) and nicotinic (nAChR), named after agonist activities of natural alkaloids, muscarine and nicotine, respectively. These receptors are different in function. The mAChR being G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) mediates a slow metabolic response through second messenger cascades, while the nAChR is ligand-gated ion channel, mediating a fast synaptic transmission of the neurotransmitter. Skeletal muscles are sufficient with the nAChR and are devoid of the mAChR. Here shows part of AChRs in humans in this table.
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