Intraterminal spreading and extrajunctional expression of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in denervated rat skeletal muscle

Bertalan Csillik, János Nemcsók, Bruce Chase, Anita E. Csillik, Elizabeth Knyihár-Csillik

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18 Scopus citations


Through the use of biotinylated-bungarotoxin and monoclonal antibodies, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) was localized in the subneural apparatus of mammalian motor end plates of the flexor digitorum brevis muscle of the adult rat at the light and electron microscopic levels. Under normal conditions, nAChR was located in the primary post-synaptic membrane of the neuromuscular junction, and the depths of the junctional folds constituting the secondary post-synaptic membrane did not contain any nAChR. Up to 75 days after repeated transection of the related motor nerve (sciatic), there was no major alteration in the light-microscopic localization of junctional nAChR in the subneural apparatus, except for a moderate shrinkage and increased immunocytochemical reactivity of the subneural apparatus. At the electron microscopic level, however, immunocytochemical reactivity gradually occupied the entire extent of the secondary post-synaptic membrane, including the depths of the junctional folds, which exhibited extensive branching. In non-innervated portions of the muscle fibers. nAChR receptor appeared in a linear localization on the surfaces of denervated muscle fibers. This linear reaction was not continuous with the nAChR reaction of the motor end plates. It is concluded that denervation supersensitivity might not be due to spreading of junctional nAChR from the end-plate area, but rather to expression of nAChR in non-innervated portions of the muscle fiber and to the infraterminal (subsynaptic) spreading of nAChR into the depths of junctional folds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-434
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Acetylcholine receptor
  • Denervation supersensitivity
  • Electron microscopy
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Nicotinic
  • α-Bungarotoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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