Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype expression in avian vestibular hair cells, nerve terminals and ganglion cells

G. Q. Li, G. A. Kevetter, R. B. Leonard, D. J. Prusak, T. G. Wood, M. J. Correia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) are widely expressed in the CNS and peripheral nervous system and play an important role in modulating the cell activity and function. We have shown that the cholinergic agonist carbachol reduces the pigeon's inwardly rectifying potassium channel (pKir2.1) ionic currents in native vestibular hair cells. We have cloned and sequenced pigeon mAChR subtypes M2-M5 and we have studied the expression of all five mAChR subtypes (M1-M5) in the pigeon vestibular end organs (semicircular canal ampullary cristae and utricular maculae), vestibular nerve fibers and the vestibular (Scarpa's) ganglion using tissue immunohistochemistry (IH), dissociated single cell immunocytochemistry (IC) and Western blotting (WB). We found that vestibular hair cells, nerve fibers and ganglion cells each expressed all five (M1-M5) mAChR subtypes. Two of the three odd-numbered mAChRs (M1, M5) were present on the hair cell cilia, supporting cells and nerve terminals. And all three odd numbered mAChRs (M1, M3 and M5) were expressed on cuticular plates, myelin sheaths and Schwann cells. Even-numbered mAChRs were seen on the nerve terminals. M2 was also shown on the cuticular plates and supporting cells. Vestibular efferent fibers and terminals were not identified in our studies. Results from WB of the dissociated vestibular epithelia, nerve fibers and vestibular ganglia were consistent with the results from IH and IC. Our findings suggest that there is considerable co-expression of the subtypes on the neural elements of the labyrinth. Further electrophysiological and pharmacological studies should delineate the mechanisms of action of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors on structures in the labyrinth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-402
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2007


  • G-protein
  • Western blotting
  • avian
  • immunocytochemistry
  • immunohistochemistry
  • vestibular peripheral system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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