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J Cell Biol. 1997 Nov 17;139(4):907-16.

Differential localization of vesicular acetylcholine and monoamine transporters in PC12 cells but not CHO cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Previous studies have indicated that neuro-endocrine cells store monoamines and acetylcholine (ACh) in different secretory vesicles, suggesting that the transport proteins responsible for packaging these neurotransmitters sort to distinct vesicular compartments. Molecular cloning has recently demonstrated that the vesicular transporters for monoamines and ACh show strong sequence similarity, and studies of the vesicular monoamine transporters (VMATs) indicate preferential localization to large dense core vesicles (LDCVs) rather than synaptic-like microvesicles (SLMVs) in rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. We now report the localization of the closely related vesicular ACh transporter (VAChT). In PC12 cells, VAChT differs from the VMATs by immunofluorescence and fractionates almost exclusively to SLMVs and endosomes by equilibrium sedimentation. Immunoisolation further demonstrates colocalization with synaptophysin on SLMVs as well as other compartments. However, small amounts of VAChT also occur on LDCVs. Thus, VAChT differs in localization from the VMATs, which sort predominantly to LDCVs. In addition, we demonstrate ACh transport activity in stable PC12 transformants overexpressing VAChT. Since previous work has suggested that VAChT expression confers little if any transport activity in non-neural cells, we also determined its localization in transfected CHO fibroblasts. In CHO cells, VAChT localizes to the same endosomal compartment as the VMATs by immunofluorescence, density gradient fractionation, and immunoisolation with an antibody to the transferrin receptor. We have also detected ACh transport activity in the transfected CHO cells, indicating that localization to SLMVs is not required for function. In summary, VAChT differs in localization from the VMATs in PC12 cells but not CHO cells.

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