Molecular alteration of a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor system during synaptogenesis

T. H. Large, N. J. Cho, F. G. De Mello, W. L. Klein

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25 Scopus citations


Biochemical properties of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor system of the avian retina were found to change during the period when synapses form in ovo. Comparison of ligand binding to membranes obtained before and after synaptogenesis showed a significant increase in the affinity, but not proportion, of the high affinity agonist-binding state. There was no change in receptor sensitivity to antagonists during this period. Pirenzepine binding, which can discriminate muscarinic receptor subtypes, showed the presence of a single population of low affinity sites (M2) before and after synaptogenesis. The change in agonist binding was not due to the late development of receptor function; tests for receptor-stimulated phosphatidylinositol turnover and for modulation of agonist binding by guanylylimidodiphosphate showed functional coupling to be present several days prior to the onset of synapse formation. However, detergent-solubilization of membranes eliminated differences in agonist binding between receptors from embryos and hatched chicks, suggesting a developmental change in interactions of the receptor with functionally related membrane components. A possible basis for altered interactions was obtained from isoelectric point data showing that the muscarinic receptor population underwent a transition from a predominantly low pI form (4.25) in 13 day embryos to a predominantly high pI form (4.50) in newly hatched chicks. The possibility that biochemical changes in the muscarinic receptor play a role in differentiation of the system by controlling receptor position on the surface of nerve cells is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8873-8881
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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