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J Neurobiol. 1992 Jul;23(5):592-604.

Mechanism of agrin-induced acetylcholine receptor aggregation.

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Department of Physiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver 80262.


Agrin induces the formation of specializations on chick myotubes in culture at which several components of the postsynaptic apparatus accumulate, including acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Agrin also induces AChR phosphorylation. Several lines of evidence suggest that agrin-induced phosphorylation of tyrosine residues in the beta subunit of the AChR is an early step in receptor aggregation: agrin-induced phosphorylation and aggregation have the same dose dependence; treatments that prevent aggregation block phosphorylation; phosphorylation begins before any detectable change in receptor distribution, reaches a maximum hours before aggregation is complete, and declines slowly together with the disappearance of aggregates after agrin is withdrawn; agrin slows the rate at which receptors are solubilized from intact myotubes by detergent extraction; and the change in receptor extractability parallels the change in phosphorylation. A model for agrin-induced AChR aggregation is presented in which phosphorylation of AChRs by an agrin-activated protein tyrosine kinase causes receptors to become attached to the cytoskeleton, which reduces their mobility and detergent extractability, and leads to the accumulation of receptors in the vicinity of the activated kinase, forming an aggregate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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