Letter | Published:

Triethylcholine as a precursor to a cholinergic false transmitter

Abstract

A FALSE transmitter is a substance that is stored and released by a nerve terminal instead of its normal transmitter. Several false transmitters have been demonstrated at adrenergic synapses1, but there has been no report of the synthesis, storage and release of a false transmitter at cholinergic synapses. It has been suggested that the triethyl analogue of choline (2-hydroxyethyl-triethylammonium iodide, TEC) might form a cholinergic false transmitter; in vitro studies have shown that it can be accumulated by tissues that take up choline2, and that choline acetyltransferase can acetylate TEC (refs 3 and 4). Nothing is known, however, about the specificity of the processes associated with storage and release of acetylcholine in intact tissue. The possibility that TEC can form a false transmitter was studied in the present experiments. The results demonstrate the uptake of TEC, its acetylation, and the release of acetyl-TEC by the superior cervical ganglion of the cat.

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