Origin of acetylcholinesterase in the neuromuscular junction formed in the in vitro innervated human muscle

Authors

  • Marko Jevsek,

    1. Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology, Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical School, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Tomaz Mars,

    1. Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology, Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical School, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Katarina Mis,

    1. Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology, Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical School, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Zoran Grubic

    1. Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology, Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical School, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr Zoran Grubic, as above.
E-mail: Zoran.Grubic@mf.uni-lj.si

Abstract

Synaptic basal lamina is interposed between the pre- and postsynaptic membrane of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). This position permits deposition of basal lamina-bound NMJ components of both neuronal and muscle fibre origin. One such molecule is acetylcholinesterase (AChE). The origin of NMJ AChE has been investigated previously as the answer would elucidate the relative contributions of muscle fibers and motor neurons to NMJ formation. However, in the experimental models used in prior investigations either the neuronal or muscular components of the NMJs were removed, or the NMJs were poorly differentiated. Therefore, the question of AChE origin in the intact and functional NMJ remains open. Here, we have approached this question using an in vitro model in which motor neurons, growing from embryonic rat spinal cord explants, form well differentiated NMJs with cultured human myotubes. By immunocytochemical staining with species-specific anti-AChE antibodies, we are able to differentiate between human (muscular) and rat (neuronal) AChE at the NMJ. We observed strong signal at the NMJ after staining with human AChE antibodies, which suggests a significant muscular AChE contribution. However, a weaker, but still clearly recognizable signal is observed after staining with rat AChE antibodies, suggesting a smaller fraction of AChE was derived from motor neurons. This is the first report demonstrating that both motor neuron and myotube contribute synaptic AChE under conditions where they interact with each other in the formation of an intact and functional NMJ.

Ancillary