Butyrylcholinesterase activity and molecular components in thymus of healthy and merosin-deficientLama2dymice

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The laminin-α2 chain, referred to as merosin, forms part of the laminin-2 heterotrimer (α2β1γ1), which is principally expressed in the basement membrane of muscle. Nearly half of patients suffering from congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) have abnormalities in the laminin-α2 chain (LAMA2) gene, and the merosin-deficient Lama2dy mouse shows CMD. The expression of merosin in thymus, the abnormalities in the gland of Lama2dy mice, and the presence of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) in thymus prompted us to study the possible effects of the deficiency of merosin on thymus BuChE. We found that, while AChE activity decreased by ∼50% in merosin-deficient thymus, the deficiency had little effect on BuChE activity. About 65% of thymus BuChE activity was extracted with a saline buffer and 30% with 1% Triton X-100. Sedimentation analyses and phenyl-agarose chromatography showed that thymus contained amphiphilic BuChE monomers Symbol and dimers Symbol, and hydrophilic tetramers Symbol. Binding assays with various plant lectins revealed differences between the oligoglycans linked to BuChE tetramers and lighter components. The deficiency of merosin had no effect on the biosynthesis of thymus BuChE as judged by the lack of major changes between control and Lama2dy mice thymuses in the distribution of BuChE molecules and the level of lectin binding. The detoxifying action of BuChE, its role as a backup to AChE, and the relevance of the cholinergic dialogue between T cells and stromal cells for T lymphocyte proliferation, maturation and survival support a physiological function for BuChE in thymus.

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