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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Jan;87(2):553-7.

Acetylcholine and ATP are coreleased from the electromotor nerve terminals of Narcine brasiliensis by an exocytotic mechanism.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Philadelphia, PA.


Although the exocytotic mechanism for quantal acetylcholine (ACh) release has been widely accepted for many years, it has repeatedly been challenged by reports that ACh released upon stimulation originates from the cytosol rather than synaptic vesicles. In this report, two independent experimental approaches were taken to establish the source of ACh released from the electromotor system of Narcine brasiliensis. Since ATP is colocalized with ACh in the cholinergic vesicle, the exocytotic theory predicts the corelease of these two components with a stoichiometry identical to that of the vesicle contents. The stimulated release of ATP from isolated synaptosomes could be accurately quantitated in the presence of the ATPase inhibitor adenosine 5'-[alpha, beta-methylene]triphosphate (500 microM), which prevented degradation of the released ATP. Various concentrations of elevated extracellular potassium (25-75 mM), veratridine (100 microM), and the calcium ionophore ionomycin (5 microM) all induced the corelease of ACh and ATP in a constant molar ratio of 5-6:1 (ACh/ATP), a stoichiometry consistent with that established for the vesicle content. In parallel to these stoichiometry studies, the compound 2-(4-phenylpiperidino)cyclohexanol (AH5183) was used to inhibit specifically the vesicular accumulation of newly synthesized (radiolabeled) ACh without affecting cytosolic levels of newly synthesized ACh in cholinergic nerve terminals. Treatment with AH5183 (10 microM) was shown to inhibit the release of newly synthesized ACh without markedly affecting total ACh release; thus, the entry of newly synthesized ACh into the synaptic vesicle is essential for its release. We conclude that ACh released upon stimulation originates exclusively from the vesicular pool and is coreleased stoichiometrically with other soluble vesicle contents.

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