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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jul 19;271(29):17433-8.

Identification of an element crucial for the sub-synaptic expression of the acetylcholine receptor epsilon-subunit gene.

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  • 1URA CNRS 0210 "Neurobiologie Mol├ęculaire," D├ępartement des Biotechnologies, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


The adult neuromuscular junction displays an accumulation of both the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) protein in the subneural domain of the post-synaptic membrane and the mRNAs coding for all its subunits at the level of the subjunctional "fundamental nuclei." In the course of end plate development, the epsilon-subunit, at variance with other subunits, becomes exclusively expressed at the level of the fundamental nuclei, yet at a rather late stage (around birth). To analyze the promoter region of the epsilon-subunit gene which directs its specific expression at the synapse, we used a quantitative transient in vivo expression assay in intact muscle tissue using constructs of the epsilon-subunit promoter placed upstream of the beta-galactosidase reporter gene. One crucial element for synapse-specific expression was detected between the -11 and -6 positions. Disruption of this element, either by a scanning mutation or single base mutations, greatly diminishes, or even completely inhibits, preferential expression of the transgene at the end plate. Gel shift experiments reveal the presence of a complex in nuclear muscle extracts that bind the core sequence of this element. The identification of such a site opens the possibility to identify regulatory factors responsible for compartmentalized expression at the neuromuscular junction.

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