Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are pentameric neurotransmitter receptors. They are members of the Cys-loop family of ligand-gated ion channels which also include ionotropic receptors for 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine. Nicotinic receptors are expressed in both the nervous system and at the neuromuscular junction and have been implicated in several neurological and neuromuscular disorders. In vertebrates, seventeen nAChR subunits have been identified (α1-α10, β1-β4, γ, δ and ε) which can co-assemble to generate a diverse family of nAChR subtypes. This review will focus on vertebrate nAChRs and will provide an overview of the extent of nAChR diversity based on studies of both native and recombinant nAChRs. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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