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J Neurochem. 2000 Nov;75(5):1997-2005.

Involvement of alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in activation of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine beta-hydroxylase gene expression in PC12 cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA.


Nicotine treatment increases intracellular free Ca(2+) concentration [Ca(2+)](i), stimulates catecholamine release, and elevates gene expression for the catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH). However, the type of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) mediating these events is unclear. The nAChR receptor antagonists alpha-bungarotoxin (alphaBTX) and methyllycaconitine greatly reduced the nicotine-triggered initial transient rise in [Ca(2+)](i) and prevented the second prolonged elevation of [Ca(2+)](i), suggesting the involvement of alpha7 nAChRs. Two specific alpha7 nicotinic agonists, 3-(2,4-dimethoxybenzilidene)anabaseine (DMXB) and E, E-3-(cinnamylidene)anabaseine (3-CA), were found to elicit a small, delayed increase in [Ca(2+)](i) with kinetics and magnitude similar to the second elevation observed with nicotine. This increase was inhibited by the inositol trisphosphate receptor antagonist xestospongin C. Exposure to 3-CA or DMXB for 6 or 24 h elevated TH and DBH mRNA levels two- to fourfold over control levels. These agonists were more effective than nicotine alone in increasing TH and DBH gene expression and significantly elevated [Ca(2+)](i) for up to 6 h. The increase in [Ca(2+)](i) or the elevation in TH mRNA by 3-CA was completely inhibited by alphaBTX. This study, for the first time, implicates stimulation of alpha7 nAChRs in the activation of TH and DBH gene expression.

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