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J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 1996 Fall;12(3):259-69.

Characterization of the muscarinic receptor subtypes in the bovine corneal epithelial cells.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Muscarinic receptor subtypes in the bovine corneal epithelial cells (BCE) were characterized on the basis of their: 1) ligand binding properties, 2) linkage to Ca2+ and cAMP cell signaling pathways, and 3) gene transcripts. Receptor subtypes, m1 and m2, are indicated by competition experiments using subtype-selective muscarinic receptor ligands. [3H]N-methylscopolamine ([3H]-MS) binding was displaced with IC50s of: 1) 1 microM for the m1 antagonist, pirenzipine; 2) 51 microM for the competitive m2 antagonist, AFDX-116; 3) 100 microM for the competitive m3 antagonist, 4-DAMP. In fural2 loaded BCE, carbachol (0.001 - 100 microM) increased intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and these responses were significantly suppressed if they were preincubated with either atropine (1 microM) or 1 microM pirenzipine. In the absence of extracellular Ca2+, these carbachol-induced increases in [Ca2+]i were depressed. A considerable fall occurred with the presence of extracellular Ca2+ and 1 microM verapamil, an L-type Ca2+ channel blocker. These responses suggest that carbachol increases Ca2+ influx through an L-type Ca2+ channel in the plasma membrane, in addition to mobilizing Ca2+ from an intracellular store. BCE also possessed muscarinic receptors which were negatively linked to cAMP production insofar as: 1) preincubation with 10 microM carbachol significantly suppressed the increases in cAMP accumulation induced by isoproterenol (1 - 25 microM); 2) this blunting effect of carbachol on cAMP production was eliminated when the BCE were preincubated with either 1 microM AFDX-116, or 100 ng/ml pertussis toxin. The results of probing for muscarinic receptor gene expression are partially consistent with the ligand binding and functional assays. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed the presence of m2 but not m1, m3 or m4 gene transcripts. In summary, we obtained pharmacological and functional evidence for m1 and m2 receptors in BCE. However, only the m2 gene transcript could be detected.

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