• muscarinic receptor;
  • neural stem cells;
  • neuronal progenitor cells


Development of the nervous system is accompanied by expansion and differentiation of the neuronal progenitors within the embryonic neuroepithelium. Although the role of growth factors in this process is well documented, there is increasing evidence for a role of neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine is known to exert many actions on developing neural cells, but its potential role in neurogenesis is unclear. Here, we show that the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor is expressed in the neuroepithelium of the rat forebrain, where it is found on both nestin+ progenitor cells and TuJ1+ newly differentiated neurons. Furthermore, transcription is governed, at least in part, by regulatory cis elements that are also responsible for driving transcription in neuroblastoma cells. This represents the first demonstration of M1 receptors on neuronal progenitor cells and supports the notion that M1 muscarinic receptors may play a role in development of the nervous system prior to the onset of synaptogenesis and their subsequent role in neurotransmission.