Agrin released by motor neurons induces the aggregation of acetylcholine receptors at neuromuscular junctions

Neuron. 1992 May;8(5):865-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(92)90200-w.


To test the hypothesis that agrin mediates motor neuron-induced aggregation of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in skeletal muscle fibers and to determine whether the agrin active in this process is released by motor neurons, we raised polyclonal antibodies to purified ray agrin that blocked its receptor aggregating activity. When the antibodies were applied to chick motor neuron--chick myotube cocultures, they inhibited the formation of AChR aggregates at and near neuromuscular contacts, demonstrating that agrin plays a role in the induction of the aggregates. Rat motor neurons, like chick motor neurons, induce AChR aggregates on chick myotubes. This effect was not inhibited by our antibodies, indicating that, although the antibodies inhibited the activity of chick agrin, they did not have a similar effect on rat agrin. We conclude that agrin released by rat motor neurons induced the chick myotubes to aggregate AChRs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agrin
  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chickens
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism*


  • Agrin
  • Antibodies
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Cholinergic