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Development January 1, 2017; 144 (15): 2764-2770.

Acetylcholinesterase plays a non-neuronal, non-esterase role in organogenesis.

Pickett MA , Dush MK , Nascone-Yoder NM .

Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is crucial for degrading acetylcholine at cholinergic synapses. In vitro studies suggest that, in addition to its role in nervous system signaling, AChE can also modulate non-neuronal cell properties, although it remains controversial whether AChE functions in this capacity in vivo Here, we show that AChE plays an essential non-classical role in vertebrate gut morphogenesis. Exposure of Xenopus embryos to AChE-inhibiting chemicals results in severe defects in intestinal development. Tissue-targeted loss-of-function assays (via microinjection of antisense morpholino or CRISPR-Cas9) confirm that AChE is specifically required in the gut endoderm tissue, a non-neuronal cell population, where it mediates adhesion to fibronectin and regulates cell rearrangement events that drive gut lengthening and digestive epithelial morphogenesis. Notably, the classical esterase activity of AChE is dispensable for this activity. As AChE is deeply conserved, widely expressed outside of the nervous system, and the target of many environmental chemicals, these results have wide-reaching implications for development and toxicology.

PubMed ID: 28684626
PMC ID: PMC5560043
Article link: Development
Grant support: R01 DK085300 NIDDK NIH HHS , T32 GM008776 NIGMS NIH HHS

Genes referenced: ache ces2 fn1

Morpholinos referenced: Ache MO1

External Resources:
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Anderson, 2008, Pubmed [+]

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