Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 63, Issue 23, pp 2818-2828

First online:

Regulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by tyrosine kinases in the peripheral and central nervous system: same players, different roles

  • A. WiesnerAffiliated withDepartment of Neurochemistry, Brain Research Institute, University of Zürich
  • , C. FuhrerAffiliated withDepartment of Neurochemistry, Brain Research Institute, University of Zürich Email author 

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Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) exist in many subtypes and are found in the peripheral and central nervous system where they mediate or modulate synaptic transmission. We review how tyrosine phosphorylation and kinases regulate muscle and neuronal nAChRs. Interestingly, although some of the same kinase players interact with the various receptor subtypes, the functional consequences are different. While concerted action of MuSK, Abl- and Src-family kinases (SFKs) regulates the synaptic distribution of nAChRs at the neuromuscular junction, SFKs activate heteromeric neuronal nAChRs in adrenal chromaffin cells, thereby enhancing catecholamine secretion. In contrast, the activity of homomeric neuronal nAChRs, as found in the hippocampus, is negatively regulated by tyrosine phosphorylation and SFKs. It appears that tyrosine kinases provide the means to regulate all nAChRs; but the functional consequences, even those caused by the same kinase family, are specific for each receptor subtype and location.


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor neuromuscular junction chromaffin cells hippocampus tyrosine phosphorylation Src Abl MuSK