Uncovering the structure and gating mechanism of a7 protein

UT Southwestern researchers have identified the structure of a key member of a family of proteins called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in three different shapes. The work, published online today in Cell, could eventually ...

Rays provide power for an electric generator

Scientists from the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan removed the electric organ from a torpedo and chemically stimulated the organ by injecting a solution of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine though a syringe. ...

Coral snake venom reveals a unique route to lethality

For more than a decade, a vial of rare snake venom refused to give up its secret formula for lethality; its toxins had no effect on the proteins that most venoms target. Finally, an international team of researchers figured ...

True colors: Female squid have two ways to switch color

The female common market squid –– AKA Doryteuthis opalescens –– may not be so common after all. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have discovered that this glamorous cephalopod possesses a pair of stripes that can sparkle ...

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Acetylcholine

The chemical compound acetylcholine (often abbreviated ACh) is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) in many organisms including humans. Acetylcholine is one of many neurotransmitters in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the only neurotransmitter used in the motor division of the somatic nervous system (sensory neurons use glutamate and various peptides at their synapses). Acetylcholine is also the principal neurotransmitter in all autonomic ganglia.

Acetylcholine slows the heart rate when functioning as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. However, acetylcholine also behaves as an excitatory neurotransmitter at neuromuscular junctions.

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