Letter | Published:

Incorporation of acetylcholinesterase into synaptic vesicles is associated with blockade of synaptic transmission


THE transmission of nerve signals across cholinergic synapses involves the presynaptic release (or secretion) of acetylcholine (ACh) which, by acting on specific sites of the postsynaptic membrane, induces changes in the postsynaptic transmembrane potential. According to the vesicle hypothesis1, ACh is packed inside synaptic vesicles which release their contents from the nerve terminal on contact with the presynaptic membrane. Although there is abundant experimental evidence supporting the hypothesis2, some papers question its validity3–6. The most important alternative hypothesis postulates that the releasable ACh is free in the cytoplasm3–6 and that the vesicles are a secondary reservoir containing ‘bound’ ACh.

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