Faculty Research 1990 - 1999


Spatial restriction of AChR gene expression to subsynaptic nuclei.

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Cell-Nucleus: ph, Fluorescent-Antibody-Technique, Gene-Expression-Regulation: ph, Mice, Mice-Transgenic, Molecular-Probe-Techniques, Neuromuscular-Junction: ph, Receptors-Cholinergic: ge, RNA-Messenger: an, SUPPORT-NON-U-S-GOVT, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-P-H-S, Synapses: ph, Translation-Genetic: ph

JAX Source

Development 1992 Mar;114(3):545-53




Acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) and the mRNAs encoding the four AChR subunits are highly concentrated in the synaptic region of skeletal myofibers. The initial localization of AChRs to synaptic sites is triggered by the nerve and is caused, in part, by post-translational mechanisms that involve a redistribution of AChR protein in the myotube membrane. We have used transgenic mice that harbor a gene fusion between the murine AChR delta subunit gene and the human growth hormone gene to show that innervation also activates two independent transcriptional pathways that are important for establishing and maintaining this non-uniform distribution of AChR mRNA and protein. One pathway is triggered by signal(s) that are associated with myofiber depolarization, and these signals act to repress delta subunit gene expression in nuclei throughout the myofiber. Denervation of muscle removes this repression and causes activation of delta subunit gene expression in nuclei in non-synaptic regions of the myofiber. A second pathway is triggered by an unknown signal that is associated with the synaptic site, and this signal acts locally to activate delta subunit gene expression only in nuclei within the synaptic region. Synapse-specific expression, however, does not depend upon the continuous presence of the nerve, since transcriptional activation of the delta subunit gene in subsynaptic nuclei persists after denervation. Thus, the nuclei in the synaptic region of multinucleated skeletal myofibers are transcriptionally distinct from nuclei elsewhere in the myofiber, and this spatially restricted transcription pattern is presumably imposed initially by the nerve.

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