Microtubules and the formation of acetylcholine receptor clusters in chick embryonic muscle cells

Eur J Cell Biol. 1985 Nov;39(1):173-8.


We have used the microtubule-stabilizing drug taxol to examine the relationship between microtubules and the appearance and cell surface distribution of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) in primary cultures of chick embryonic muscle cells. Taxol at a 5-microM concentration induced the large scale polymerization of tubulin in muscle cells that was most obvious as intermittent bundles of microtubules along the myotube. Prominent bundles of microtubules were also clearly visible in the fibroblasts. This concentration of taxol had no significant effect on the incorporation rate, increased synthesis induced by brain extract or the total cell surface number of AChRs measured over a 24-h period. Thus, excess polymerization of microtubules does not affect the movement of receptors to the cell surface. However, when cell surface AChR distribution was examined using rhodamine-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin, taxol treatment of myotubes was shown to induce the aggregation of receptors. If receptors were labeled before taxol addition, aggregation of these prelabeled receptors was also seen, a result indicating that taxol can induce the movement of receptors already in the membrane. We believe this evidence further implicates microtubules as being involved in the movement of these cell surface receptors in the plane of the myotube membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Bungarotoxins / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Muscles / cytology*
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Paclitaxel
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Alkaloids
  • Bungarotoxins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Paclitaxel