Different patterns of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit transcription in human thymus

Roxana Bruno, Lidia Sabater, Eva Tolosa, Mireia Sospedra, Xavier Ferrer-Francesch, Jaume Coll, Marius Foz, Arthur Melms, Ricardo Pujol-Borrell

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical observations suggest that the thymus is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis (MG) , but questions such as the level and location of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) subunit expression that are fundamental to postulate any pathogenic mechanism, remain controversial. We have re-examined this question by combining calibrated RT-PCR and real-time PCR to study nicotinic AChR subunit mRNA expression in a panel of normal and myasthenic thymi. The results suggest that the expression of the different AChR subunits follows three distinct patterns: constitutive for ε, neonatal for γ and individually variable for α1, β1 and δ. Experiments using confocal laser microdissection suggest that AChR is mainly expressed in the medullary compartment of the thymus but there is not a clear compartmentalization of subunit expression. The different patterns of subunit expression may influence decisively the level of central tolerance to the subunits and explain the focusing of the T cell response to the α and γ subunits. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-159
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Acetylcholine receptor
  • AChR
  • cDNA
  • Complementary DNA
  • Glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase
  • Messenger RNA
  • MG
  • mRNA
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Reverse transcription
  • RT
  • RT-PCR
  • Thymus
  • Tm


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