Recent immunocytochemical studies have shown that calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) coexists with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in spinal motoneurons of the chick. Moreover, CGRP causes an increase in the number of acetylcholine receptors on the surface of cultured chick myotubes. CGRP might thus serve as one of the signals by which motoneurons regulate endplate development. In a search for the second messengers involved, we now demonstrate that CGRP stimulates accumulation of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in cultured chick myotubes. This effect is, at least in part, mediated by an increase in cAMP synthesis, as the peptide also activates adenylate cyclase in chick muscle membranes. Nanomolar concentrations of CGRP elicit significant increases in both cellular cAMP levels and acetylcholine receptor numbers. The present findings suggest that cAMP is one of the second messengers which mediate the increase in acetylcholine receptor number elicited by CGRP. Furthermore, CGRP might be implicated in other trophic actions mediated by cAMP in skeletal muscle cells.
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