Expression and subcellular localization of a novel nuclear acetylcholinesterase protein

Susana Constantino Rosa Santos*, Inês Vala, Cláudia Miguel, João T. Barata, Pedro Garção, Paula Agostinho, Marta Mendes, Ana V. Coelho, Angelo Calado, Catarina R. Oliveira, João Martins E Silva, Carlota Saldanha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Acetylcholine is found in the nervous system and also in other cell types (endothelium, lymphocytes, and epithelial and blood cells), which are globally termed the non-neuronal cholinergic system. In this study we investigated the expression and subcellular localization of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in endothelial cells. Our results show the expression of the 70-kDa AChE in both cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments. We also describe, for the first time, a nuclear and cytoskeleton-bound AChE isoform with ∼55 kDa detected in endothelial cells. This novel isoform is decreased in response to vascular endothelial growth factor via the proteosomes pathway, and it is down-regulated in human leukemic T-cells as compared with normal T-cells, suggesting that the decreased expression of the 55-kDa AChE protein may contribute to an angiogenic response and associate with tumorigenesis. Importantly, we show that its nuclear expression is not endothelial cell-specific but also evidenced in non-neuronal and neuronal cells. Concerning neuronal cells, we can distinguish an exclusively nuclear expression in postnatal neurons in contrast to a cytoplasmic and nuclear expression in embryonic neurons, suggesting that the cell compartmentalization of this new AChE isoform is changed during the development of nervous system. Overall, our studies suggest that the 55-kDa AChE may be involved in different biological processes such as neural development, tumor progression, and angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25597-25603
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


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