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. 1995 May;30(1):17-28.
doi: 10.1016/0169-328x(94)00266-h.

Characterization of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Expressed in Primary Cultures of Cerebellar Granule Cells

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Characterization of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Expressed in Primary Cultures of Cerebellar Granule Cells

M Didier et al. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. .

Abstract

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), like other calcium permeable channel receptors, may play a crucial role during neuronal development. We have characterized nAChRs in developing mouse cerebellar granule cells in primary culture. L-[3H]Nicotine, [3H]cytisine and [125I]alpha-bungarotoxin binding experiments revealed the presence of a single class of saturable and specific high affinity binding sites for each ligand. The expression of these nicotinic binding sites followed a developmental pattern reaching a maximum during the establishment of excitatory amino acid synaptic contacts. Immunolabeling with monoclonal antibodies to nAChR subunits revealed the presence of alpha 4 and beta 2 subunits in most neurons. Moreover, some neuronal cells displayed a somatic as well as a neuritic localization for the alpha 7 subunit as shown by [125I]alpha-bungarotoxin autoradiography. The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detected the presence of mRNAs for alpha 3, alpha 4, alpha 5, alpha 7, beta 2 and beta 4 nAChR subunits. Non-neuronal cells did not express nAChRs, as shown by [3H]nicotine and [125I]alpha-bungarotoxin binding, immunocytochemistry and PCR. Maximum Ca2+ influx elicited by nicotine, and partly sensitive to alpha-bungarotoxin, was observed around 10-14 days after plating. This correlated with the time period at which the highest number of nicotine binding sites was detected. Sensitivity to several NMDA receptor antagonists as well as to removal of endogenous glutamate by pyruvate transaminase treatment revealed a glutamatergic component in the nicotine stimulated calcium influx. The time-dependent specific nAChR expression and the potential association between nAChRs and NMDA receptor activation suggest that nAChRs may regulate glutamatergic activity during synaptogenesis in cerebellar granule cells.

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