Manipulations of ACHE gene expression suggest non-catalytic involvement of acetylcholinesterase in the functioning of mammalian photoreceptors but not in retinal degeneration

To explore role(s) of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in functioning and diseased photoreceptors, we studied normal (rd/+) and degenerating (rd/rd) murine retinas. All retinal neurons, expressed AChEmRNA throughout fetal development. AChE and c-Fos mRNAs peaked at post-natal days 10-12, when apoptosis of rd/rd photoreceptors begins. Moreover, c-Fos and AChEmRNA were co-overexpressed in rd/rd mice producing transgenic human (h), and host (m) AChE, but not in rd/+ mice. However, mAChE overexpression also occurred in transgenics expressing human serum albumin. Drastic variations in AChE catalytic activity were ineffective during development. Neither transgenic excess nor diisopropylfluorophosphonate (DFP) inhibition (80%) affected the rd phenotype; nor did DFP exposure induce photoreceptor degeneration or affect other key cholinergic proteins in rd/+ mice, unlike reports of adult mice and despite massive induction under DFP of c-Fos70 years). Therefore, the extreme retinal sensitivity to AChE modulation may reflect non-catalytic function(s) of AChE in adult photoreceptors. These findings exclude AChE as causing the rd phenotype, suggest that its primary function(s) in mammalian retinal development are non-catalytic ones and indicate special role(s) for the AChE protein in adult photoreceptors.

Authors: Broide RS, Grifman M, Loewenstein A, Grisaru D, Timberg R, Stone J, Shani M, Patrick JW, Soreq H.
Year of publication: 1999
Journal: Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 Aug 25;71(2):137-48.

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