RIC-3 enhances the functional expression of certain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in vertebrates and invertebrates and increases the availability of functional receptors in cultured cells and Xenopus laevis oocytes. Maximal activity of RIC-3 may be cell-type dependent, so neither mammalian nor invertebrate proteins is optimal in amphibian oocytes. We cloned the X. laevis ric-3
cDNA and tested the frog protein in oocyte expression studies. X. laevis RIC-3 shares 52% amino acid identity with human RIC-3 and only 17% with that of Caenorhabditis elegans. We used the C. elegans nicotinic receptor, ACR-16, to compare the ability of RIC-3 from three species to enhance receptor expression. In the absence of RIC-3, the proportion of oocytes expressing detectable nAChRs was greatly reduced. Varying the ratio of acr-16
to X. laevis ric-3
cRNAs injected into oocytes had little impact on the total cell current. When X. laevis, human or C. elegans ric-3
cRNAs were co-injected with acr-16
cRNA (1 : 1 ratio), 100 M acetylcholine induced larger currents in oocytes expressing X. laevis RIC-3 compared with its orthologues. This provides further evidence for a species-specific component of RIC-3 activity, and suggests that X. laevis RIC-3 is useful for enhancing the expression of invertebrate nAChRs in X. laevis oocytes.