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Eur J Biochem. 1987 Dec 30;170(1-2):11-22.

Modes of attachment of acetylcholinesterase to the surface membrane.

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Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) occurs in multiple molecular forms differing in their quaternary structure and mode of anchoring to the surface membrane. Attachment is achieved by post-translational modification of the catalytic subunits. Two such mechanisms are described. One involves attachment to catalytic subunit tetramers, via disulfide bridges, of a collagen-like fibrous tail. This, in turn, interacts, primarily via ionic forces, with a heparin-like proteoglycan in the extracellular matrix. A second such modification involve the covalent attachment of a single phosphatidylinositol molecule at the carboxyl-terminus of each catalytic subunit polypeptide; the diacylglycerol moiety of the phospholipid serves to anchor the modified enzyme hydrophobically to the lipid bilayer of the plasma membrane. The detailed molecular structure of these two classes of acetylcholinesterase are discussed, as well as their biosynthesis and mode of anchoring.

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