Regulation of cholinergic expression in cultured spinal cord neurons

Dominique Lombard-Golly*, Vivien Wong, John A. Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Factors regulating development of cholinergic spinal neurons were examined in cultures of dissociated embryonic rat spinal cord. Levels of choline acetyltransferase (CAT) activity in freshly dissociated cells decreased rapidly, remained low for the first week in culture, and then increased. The decrease in enzyme activity was partially prevented by increased cell density or by treatment with spinal cord membranes. CAT activity was also stimulated by treatment with MANS, a molecule solubilized from spinal cord membranes. The effects of MANS were greatest in low-density cultures and in freshly plated cells, suggesting that the molecule may substitute for the effects of elevated density and cell-cell contact. CAT activity in ventral (motor neuron-enriched) spinal cord cultures was similarly regulated by elevated density or treatment with MANS, whereas enzyme activity was largely unchanged in mediodorsal (autonomic neuron-enriched) cultures under these conditions. These observations suggest that development of cholinergic motor neurons and autonomic neurons are not regulated by the same factors. Treatment of ventral spinal cord cultures with MANS did not increase the number of cholinergic neurons detected by immunocytochemistry with a monoclonal CAT antibody, suggesting that MANS did not increase motor neuron survival but rather stimulated levels of CAT activity per neuron. These observations indicate that development of motor neurons can be regulated by cell-cell contact and that the MANS factor may mediate the stimulatory effects of cell-cell contact on cholinergic expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-406
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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