Cyclic AMP-regulated AChR assembly is independent of AChR subunit phosphorylation by PKA.
1. The neuronal regulation of the developmental decline in skeletal muscle acetylcholine (ACh) receptors was studied by comparing the effects of sciatic nerve section or of neuromuscular blockade with botulinum toxin (BoTX) on this decline in neonatal and adult rats, using 125I-alpha-bungarotoxin (125I-BTX) as a ligand for the receptor alpha-subunit. 2. The decline in 125I-BTX binding site concentration in neonatal rat triceps surae muscle homogenates towards low, adult levels followed a simple exponential with a time constant of 8 days. This decline occurred while the muscle is still rapidly growing, before the postnatal increase in numbers of sodium channels. It also preceded the decline in muscle ACh receptor alpha-subunit mRNA, reported in other studies, suggesting that subunit levels are not regulated only by mRNA availability. 3. Muscle denervation in the first two weeks of life prevented this developmental decline. Denervation increased the concentration of 125I-BTX binding sites but the magnitude of this increase became progressively smaller as the muscle matured, showing that removal of innervation during adult life does not revert the muscle, in toto, to its pre-innervation state. 4. Blockade of neuromuscular activity with BoTX increased 125I-BTX binding sites to a lesser extent than muscle denervation during neonatal life. This lesser effect of BoTX blockade contrasts with the equal effects of BoTX blockade and denervation in the adult.