Components of Torpedo electric organ and muscle that cause aggregation of acetylcholine receptors on cultured muscle cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • The synaptic portion of a muscle fiber's basal lamina sheath has molecules tightly bound to it that cause aggregation of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) on regenerating myofibers. Since basal lamina and other extracellular matrix constituents are insoluble in isotonic saline and detergent solutions, insoluble detergent-extracted fractions of tissues receiving cholinergic input may provide an enriched source of the AChR-aggregating molecules for detailed characterization. Here we demonstrate that such an insoluble fraction from Torpedo electric organ, a tissue with a high concentration of cholinergic synapses, causes AChRs on cultured chick muscle cells to aggregate. We have partially characterized the insoluble fraction, examined the response of muscle cells to it, and devised ways of extracting the active components with a view toward purifying them and learning whether they are similar to those in the basal lamina at the neuromuscular junction. The insoluble fraction from the electric organ was rich in extracellular matrix constituents; it contained structures resembling basal lamina sheaths and had a high density of collagen fibrils. It caused a 3- to 20-fold increase in the number of AChR clusters on cultured myotubes without significantly affecting the number or size of the myotubes. The increase was first seen 2-4 h after the fraction was added to cultures and it was maximal by 24 h. The AChR-aggregating effect was dose dependent and was due, at least in part, to lateral migration of AChRs present in the muscle cell plasma membrane at the time the fraction was applied. Activity was destroyed by heat and by trypsin. The active component(s) was extracted from the insoluble fraction with high ionic strength or pH 5.5 buffers. The extracts increased the number of AChR clusters on cultured myotubes without affecting the number or degradation rate of surface AChRs. Antiserum against the solubilized material blocked its effect on AChR distribution and bound to the active component. Insoluble fractions of Torpedo muscle and liver did not cause AChR aggregation on cultured myotubes. However a low level of activity was detected in pH 5.5 extracts from the muscle fraction. The active component(s) in the muscle extract was immunoprecipitated by the antiserum against the material extracted from the electric organ insoluble fraction. This antiserum also bound to extracellular matrix in frog muscles, including the myofiber basal lamina sheath. Thus the insoluble fraction of Torpedo electric organ is rich in AChR-aggregating molecules that are also found in muscle and has components antigenically similar to those in myofiber basal lamina.

published proceedings

  • J Cell Biol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Godfrey, E. W., Nitkin, R. M., Wallace, B. G., Rubin, L. L., & McMahan, U. J.

citation count

  • 225

complete list of authors

  • Godfrey, EW||Nitkin, RM||Wallace, BG||Rubin, LL||McMahan, UJ

publication date

  • August 1984