Pharmacology, distribution and development of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in the optic tectum of Rana pipiens

C. M. Butt, J. R. Pauly, L. H. Wilkins, L. P. Dwoskin, E. A. Debski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Visually evoked behaviors mediated by the frog optic tectum require cholinergic activity, but the receptor subtypes through which acetylcholine acts are not yet identified. Using quantitative autoradiography and scintillation spectrometry, we examined the binding of [3H]pirenzepine and [3H]AF-DX 384 in the laminated optic tectum of the frog. In mammalian systems, these substances bind excitatory (m1 and m3 subtypes) and inhibitory (m2 and m4 subtypes) muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, respectively. Pharmacological analyses, including the use of specific muscarinic toxins, confirmed the subtype selectivity of the radioligands in the frog brain. Binding sites for [3H]pirenzepine were distinct from those for [3H]AF-DX 384. In the adult tectum, [3H]pirenzepine demonstrated specific binding in tectal layers 5-9. [3H]Pirenzepine binding was also present in tadpoles as young as stage V, but all sampled stages of tadpole tectum had significantly less binding when compared to adults. Lesioning of the optic nerve had no effect on [3H]pirenzepine binding. Specific [3H]AF-DX 384 binding was found in all layers of the adult tectum. All sampled tadpole stages exhibited binding sites for [3H]AF-DX 384, but the densities of these sites were also significantly higher in adults than they were in developing stages. Short-term lesions of the optic nerve reduced [3H]AF-DX 384 binding in all tectal layers of the deafferented lobe when compared to the afferented one. Long-term lesions decreased [3H]AF-DX 384 sites in both lobes. These results indicate that multiple muscarinic acetylcholine receptor binding sites reside in the frog optic tectum at all stages of development, and their pharmacology resembles that of mammalian m1/m3, m2 and m4 subtypes. Our data indicate that few, if any, of these receptors are likely to be located on retinal ganglion cell terminals. Furthermore, the expression of inhibitory muscarinic subtypes seems to be regulated by different mechanisms than that for excitatory subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-179
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr Norman W. Pedigo for comments on the manuscript and the gift of [ 3 H]QNB for preliminary experiments. The work presented in this paper was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant no. EY 11913) and the National Institute of Mental Health (grant no. 5T32MH19917).


  • Amphibia
  • Autoradiography
  • Cholinergic
  • Visual plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Pharmacology, distribution and development of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in the optic tectum of Rana pipiens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this