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Prog Neurobiol. 2000 Apr;60(6):607-28.

The key role of butyrylcholinesterase during neurogenesis and neural disorders: an antisense-5'butyrylcholinesterase-DNA study.

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Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (FhG-IBMT), Section Biohybrid Systems, St. Ingbert/Saar, Germany.


The wide tissue distribution of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in organisms makes specific roles possible, although no clear physiologic function has yet been assigned to this enzyme. In vertebrates, it appears e.g. in serum, hemopoietic cells, liver, lung, heart, at cholinergic synapses, in the central nervous system. in tumors and not at least (besides acetylcholinesterase, AChE) in developing embryonic tissues. Here, a functional role of BChE can be found in regulation of cell proliferation and the onset of differentiation during early neuronal development--independent of its enzymatic activity. For studies concerning this point, we have established a strategy for a specific and efficient inhibition of BChE to investigate how the expected decrease of enzyme and, therefore, the manipulation of cellular cholinesterase-equilibrium influences embryonic neurogenesis--among others to gain information about the significance of noncholinergic, activity-independent and cell growth functions of BChE. The antisense-5'BChE-DNA strategy is based on inhibition of BChE mRNA transcription and protein synthesis. For this, the BChE gene is cloned into a suitable vector system; this is done in antisense-orientation, so that a transfected cell will produce their own antisense mRNA to inhibit gene expression. For such investigations in neurogenesis, the developing retina is a good model and we are able to create organotypic, three-dimensional retinal aggregates in vitro (retinospheroids) using isolated retinal cells of 6-day-old chicken embryos. Using this in vitro retina and "knock out" of BChE gene expression, we could show a key role of BChE during neurogenesis. The results are of great interest because in tumorigenesis and some neuronal disorders, the BChE gene is amplified or abnormally expressed. It has to be discussed how the antisense-5'BChE strategy can play a role in the development of new and efficient therapy forms.

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