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Nature. 2001 May 17;411(6835):261-8.

A glia-derived acetylcholine-binding protein that modulates synaptic transmission.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, Research Institute Neurosciences Vrije Universiteit, Faculty of Biology, De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


There is accumulating evidence that glial cells actively modulate neuronal synaptic transmission. We identified a glia-derived soluble acetylcholine-binding protein (AChBP), which is a naturally occurring analogue of the ligand-binding domains of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Like the nAChRs, it assembles into a homopentamer with ligand-binding characteristics that are typical for a nicotinic receptor; unlike the nAChRs, however, it lacks the domains to form a transmembrane ion channel. Presynaptic release of acetylcholine induces the secretion of AChBP through the glial secretory pathway. We describe a molecular and cellular mechanism by which glial cells release AChBP in the synaptic cleft, and propose a model for how they actively regulate cholinergic transmission between neurons in the central nervous system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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