The formation of complex acetylcholine receptor clusters requires MuSK kinase activity and structural information from the MuSK extracellular domain
Previous studies by Prives et al. (1980, 1982a and b) have shown that acetylcholine receptors (AchRs) are extracted from muscle cells in vitro by Triton X-100 at different rates, and that clustered receptors extract most slowly. The present study was aimed at comparing the relative extractability of receptors in clusters with those in intercluster regions and the role of neural factors in regulating this extractability. Using primary rat muscle cells in vitro we confirmed that receptor extraction with Triton X-100 does not fit a single exponential but has more than one rate, and that in control cells clustered receptors extract more slowly than do receptors in intercluster regions. The major new observation in this study was that neural extract lowered the overall Triton extraction rate of intercluster receptors to that of clustered receptors. Additional new observations include the findings that (1) both clustered and intercluster receptors show multiphasic extraction rates; (2) stabilization of AchRs against Triton extraction increases with time in the surface membrane; (3) the effect of neural extract on Triton extractability of AChR is dependent on factors that control RNA synthesis, cytoskeletal elements, and collagen; (4) fixation and/or buffer washes accelerate receptor extraction only in cells that are treated with Triton, but not in control cells; (5) in control cells (not exposed to neural factors) Triton X-100 causes new clusters to form. From experiments using Con A we suggest that the Triton-induced new clusters may not be formed by a redistribution of receptors but are, most likely, due to the presence of groups of intercluster receptors with extraction rates lower than those of surrounding receptors.