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Dev Biol. 1985 May;109(1):165-76.

Formation of acetylcholine receptor clusters at neuromuscular junction in Xenopus cultures.


The formation of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters at the neuromuscular junction was investigated by observing the sequential changes in AChR cluster distribution on cultured Xenopus muscle cells. AChRs were labeled with tetramethylrhodamine-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin (TMR-alpha BT). Before innervation AChRs were distributed over the entire surface of muscle cells with occasional spots of high density (hot spots). When the nerve contacted the muscle cell, the large existing hot spots disappeared and small AChR clusters (less than 1 micron in diameter) initially emerged from the background along the area of nerve contact. They grew in size, increased in number, and fused to form larger clusters over a period of 1 or 2 days. Receptor clusters did not migrate as a whole as observed during "cap" formation in B lymphocytes. The rate of recruitment of AChRs at the nerve-muscle junction varied from less than 50 binding sites to 1000 sites/hr for alpha BT. In this study the diffusion-trap mechanism was tested for the nerve-induced receptor accumulation. The diffusion coefficient of diffusely distributed AChRs was measured using the fluorescence photobleaching recovery method and found to be 2.45 X 10(-10) cm2/sec at 22 degrees C. There was no significant difference in these values among the muscle cells cultured without nerve, the non-nerve-contacted muscle cells in nerve-muscle cultures, and the nerve-contacted muscle cells. It was found that the diffusion of receptors in the membrane is not rate-limiting for AChR accumulation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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