A nicotinic acetylcholine receptor regulating cell adhesion and motility is expressed in human keratinocytes

S. A. Grando, R. M. Horton, E. F.R. Pereira, B. M. Diethelm-Okita, P. M. George, E. X. Albuquerque, B. M. Conti-Fine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Acetylcholine is synthesized and released by human epidermal keratinocytes and modulates the adhesion and motility of these cells. To understand the molecular basis of the effects of acetylcholine on keratinocytes, we investigated the presence, pharmacology, structure, and function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in human epidermal keratinocytes. Patch-clamp studies indicated that keratinocytes express acetylcholine receptors with ion gating and pharmacologic properties similar to those observed so far only in neurons, and containing the α3 subunit. Specific binding of the receptor-specific ligand 125I-κ-bungarotoxin revealed approximately 5500 binding sites per cell on undifferentiated keratinocytes in cell cultures and approximately 35,400 binding sites per cell on mature keratinocytes freshly isolated from human neonatal foreskins. Antibody binding and polymerase chain reaction experiments demonstrated the presence of α3, β2, and β4 nicotinic receptor subunits. Binding of subunit-specific antibodies indicated that nicotinic receptors were associated with the suprabasal keratinocytes in epidermis and localized to the cell membranes of differentiated keratinocytes in cell cultures. Acetylcholine and the nicotinic agonist nicotine increased cell-substrate and cell-cell adherence of cultured keratinocytes and stimulated their lateral migration. The specific antagonists κ-bungarotoxin and mecamylamine caused cell detachment and abolished migration. Thus, a nicotinic receptor expressed in keratinocytes may mediate acetylcholine control of keratinocyte adhesion and motility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-781
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • Immunofluorescence
  • Patch clamp
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Radioligand binding


Dive into the research topics of 'A nicotinic acetylcholine receptor regulating cell adhesion and motility is expressed in human keratinocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this