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Bone. 2004 Oct;35(4):819-27.

Characterization of acetylcholinesterase expression and secretion during osteoblast differentiation.

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Biomedical Tissue Research, Department of Biology (Area 9), University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5YW, UK.


Although best known for its role in cholinergic signalling, a substantial body of evidence suggests that acetylcholinesterase (AChE) has multiple biological functions. Previously, we and others identified AChE expression in areas of bone that lacked expression of other neuronal proteins. More specifically, we identified AChE expression at sites of new bone formation suggesting a role for AChE as a bone matrix protein. We have now characterised AChE expression, secretion and adhesive function in osteoblasts. Using Western blot analysis, we identified expression of two AChE species in osteoblastic cells, a major species of 68 kDa and less abundant species of approximately 55 kDa. AChE colocalised with the Golgi apparatus in osteoblastic cells and was identified in osteoblast-conditioned medium. Further analyses revealed differentiation-dependent secretion by osteoblasts, with AChE secretion levels corresponding with alkaline phosphatase activity. AChE expression by osteoblastic cells was also found to be regulated by mechanical strain both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we investigated the possibility of a functional role for AChE in osteoblast adhesion. Using specific inhibitors, blockade of sites thought to be responsible for AChE adhesive properties caused a concentration-dependent decrease in osteoblastic cell adhesion, suggesting that AChE is involved in regulating cell-matrix interactions in bone.

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