• nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR);
  • innervation;
  • target tissue interactions;
  • interneuronal synapse formation;
  • regulation;
  • induction;
  • autonomic;
  • ciliary ganglion


Individual cholinoceptive neurons express high levels of different neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes, and target them to the appropriate synaptic regions for proper function. This review focuses on the intercellular and intracellular processes that regulate nAChR expression in vertebrate peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) neurons. Specifically, we discuss the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the induction and maintenance of nAChR expression—innervation, target tissue interactions, soluble factors, and activity. We define the regulatory principles of interneuronal nicotinic synapse differentiation that have emerged from these studies. We also discuss the molecular players that target nAChRs to the surface membrane and the interneuronal synapse. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol 53: 542–555, 2002