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Journal Articles Journal of Neurochemistry Year : 2017

Natural genomic amplification of cholinesterase genes in animals


Tight control of the concentration of acetylcholine at cholinergic synapses requires precise regulation of the number and state of the acetylcholine receptors, and of the synthesis and degradation of the neurotransmitter. In particular, the cholinesterase activity has to be controlled exquisitely. In the genome of the first experimental models used (man, mouse, zebra fish and drosophila), there are only one or two genes coding for cholinesterases, whereas there are more genes for their closest relatives the carboxylesterases. Natural amplification of cholinesterase genes was first found to occur in some cancer cells and in insect species subjected to evolutionary pressure by insecticides. Analysis of the complete genome sequences of numerous representatives of the various metazoan phyla show that moderate amplification of cholinesterase genes is not uncommon in molluscs, echinoderms, hemichordates, prochordates or lepidosauria. Amplification of acetylcholinesterase genes is also a feature of parasitic nematodes or ticks. In these parasites, over-production of cholinesterase-like proteins in secreted products and the saliva are presumed to have effector roles related to host infection. These amplification events raise questions about the role of the amplified gene products, and the adaptation processes necessary to preserve efficient cholinergic transmission.

Dates and versions

hal-01608096 , version 1 (03-10-2017)



Arnaud Chatonnet, Nicolas Lenfant, P. Marchot, Murray E. Selkirk. Natural genomic amplification of cholinesterase genes in animals. Journal of Neurochemistry, 2017, 142 (2), pp.73-81. ⟨10.1111/jnc.13990⟩. ⟨hal-01608096⟩
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