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EMBO J. 1998 Jun 1;17(11):3078-90.

Implication of a multisubunit Ets-related transcription factor in synaptic expression of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

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CNRS UA D 1284 'Neurobiologie Mol├ęculaire', Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Dr Roux, F-75724 Cedex 15, Paris, France.


In adult muscle, transcription of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) is restricted to the nuclei located at the neuromuscular junction. The N-box, a new promoter element, was identified recently and shown to contribute to this compartmentalized synaptic expression of the AChR delta- and epsilon-subunits. We demonstrate that the N-box mediates transcriptional activation in cultured myotubes and identify the transcription factor that binds to the N-box as a heterooligomer in myotubes and adult muscle. The GABP (GA-binding protein) alpha-subunit belongs to the Ets family of transcription factors, whereas the beta-subunit shares homology with IkappaB and Drosophila Notch protein. GABP binding specificity to mutated N-box in vitro strictly parallels the sequence requirement for beta-galactosidase targeting to the endplate in vivo. In situ hybridization studies reveal that the mRNAs of both GABP subunits are abundant in mouse diaphragm, with preferential expression of the alpha-subunit at motor endplates. In addition, heregulin increases GABPalpha protein levels and regulates phosphorylation of both subunits in cultured chick myotubes. Finally, dominant-negative mutants of either GABPalpha or GABPbeta block heregulin-elicited transcriptional activation of the AChR delta and epsilon genes. These findings establish the expected connection with a presynaptic trophic factor whose release contributes to the accumulation of AChR subunit mRNAs at the motor endplate.

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