1. Segments of rat diaphragms were kept in choline‐free media for 4 hr and were then exposed to a physiological concentration of (14C)‐choline (30 μ M) at 37° C. The synthesis, storage and subsequent release of (14C)acetylcholine by the muscles was assessed by isotopic‐ and bio‐assays after isolation of the transmitter by paper electrophoresis. 2. Replacement of endogenous acetylcholine (0·92 μ‐mole/kg) with labelled acetylcholine proceeded slowly at rest, but rapidly during nerve stimulation. (14C)Acetylcholine accumulated most rapidly when hydrolysis of the released transmitter, and thus the re‐use of endogenous choline, was prevented by an esterase inhibitor. Fully replaced stores were maintained during nerve stimulation by synthesis rates sufficient to replenish at least 35% of the store size in 5 min. 3 In the presence of hemicholinium‐3, which inhibits choline uptake, acetylcholine stores declined rapidly during stimulation, and residual synthesis was slight, indicating little intraneural choline. Net choline uptake into nerve terminals was estimated from the highest observed synthesis rate and from previous measurements of the number and size of terminals, as 3‐6 p‐mole/cm2 sec. 4. Transmitter synthesis was localized in the region of end‐plates, and was reduced to a few per cent of normal 6 weeks after phrenic nerve section. Release experiments suggested that at least half of the acetylcholine in phrenic nerves is in their terminals; from this content and the morphology of the terminals, the average concentration of transmitter in the whole endings would appear to be about 50 m‐mole/l. Homogenization of the muscles freed choline acetyltransferase into solution, but left some (14C)acetylcholine associated with small particles, presumably synaptic vesicles. 5. Resting transmitter release was about 0·013% of stores/sec. With 360 nerve impulses at 1‐20/sec, release increased up to 0·43% of stores/sec, and amounted to 3·5–7 × 10−18 moles per end‐plate per impulse. The release rate was unaffected by the doubling of store size which occurred with eserine, but the extra transmitter did help to maintain releasable stores during prolonged stimulation. Experiments with fractional store labelling indicated that newly synthesized acetylcholine was preferentially released. 6. Preformed (3H)acetylcholine was not taken up and retained by muscle or nerve cells in the absence of an esterase inhibitor. With eserine present, labelled acetylcholine was taken up uniformly by muscle segments; when eserine was then removed, radioactive acetylcholine remained only near neuromuscular junctions.
The Journal of Physiology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1970
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