Choline Acetyltransferase: Celebrating Its Fiftieth Year

Donghai Wu, Louis B. Hersh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Abstract: It is well known that the regulation of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity under physiological and pathological conditions is important for the development and neuronal activities of cholinergic systems involved in many fundamental brain functions. This review focuses on recent progress in understanding the regulation of ChAT at the levels of both the protein and the mRNA. A deficiency in ChAT activity has been reported for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and schizophrenia. Although a major feature of ChAT regulation is likely to involve the spatial and temporal control of transcription, regulation of expression can also be at the level of RNA processing, transport/ translocation, turnover, or translation. In addition, there is increasing evidence that ChAT might be regulated at the posttranslational level by compartmentation and/or covalent modification, i.e., phosphorylation, as well as noncovalent modification (protein‐protein interaction, etc.). Synaptic activity and the state of neuronal transmission may also involve the regulation of ChAT at different levels via both positive and negative feedback loops, as was demonstrated in the characterization of two ChAT mutant Drosophila strains. Clearly, identification of cholinergic‐specific elements and the characterization of the trans‐acting factors that bind to them represent an important area of future research. Equally important is research on the mechanisms governing ChAT as an enzymatic entity. The future should be an exciting time during which we look forward to the elucidation of the cholinergic signal and its regulation as well as the determination of the three‐dimensional structure of the enzyme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1653-1663
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994


  • Acetylcholine
  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • Cholinergic systems
  • Regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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