Acetylcholine

Abstract

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter found in the nervous systems of all animals. It is involved in the control of functions as diverse as locomotion, digestion, cardiac rate, ‘fight and flight’ responses, secretion, learning and memory. Cholinergic dysfunction is associated with neuromuscular diseases such as myasthenia gravis and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease.

Keywords: neurotransmitter; choline acetyltransferase; vesicular acetylcholine transporter; acetylcholinesterase; acetylcholine receptor

Figure 1.

Biosynthesis of acetylcholine is catalysed by choline acetyltransferase. CoA, coenzyme A.

Figure 2.

Hydrolysis of acetylcholine is catalysed by acetylcholinesterase.

Figure 3.

Organization of the cholinergic gene locus. The vesicular transporter and choline acetyltransferase share a common exon and transcriptional regulatory region.

Figure 4.

Some common types of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

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Further Reading

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Birks RI and MacIntosh FC (1957) Acetylcholine metabolism at nerve‐endings. British Medical Bulletin 13: 157–161.

Dale HH (1954) The beginnings and the prospects of neurohumoral transmission. Pharmacological Reviews 6: 7–13.

Parsons SM, Prior C and Marshall IG (1993) Acetylcholine transport, storage, and release. International Review of Neurobiology 35: 279–390.

Salvaterra PM and Vaughn JE (1989) Regulation of choline acetyltransferase. International Review of Neurobiology 31: 81–143.

Taylor P (1996) Anticholinesterase agents. In: Hardman JG, Limbird LE, Molinoff PB, Ruddon RW and Goodman AG (eds) Goodman & Gillman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th edn, pp. 161–176. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Taylor P (1996) Agents acting at the neuromuscular junction and autonomic ganglia. In: Hardman JG, Limbird LE, Molinoff PB, Ruddon RW and Goodman AG (eds) Goodman & Gillman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th edn, pp. 177–197. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Usdin TB, Eiden LE, Bonner TI and Erickson JD (1995) Molecular biology of the vesicular ACh transporter. Trends in Neurosciences 18: 218–224.

Wu D and Hersh LB (1994) Choline acetyltransferase: celebrating its fiftieth year. Journal of Neurochemistry 62: 1653–1663.

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How to Cite close
Salvaterra, Paul M(Apr 2001) Acetylcholine. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000001]