Features of true acetylcholinesterase (AChE) regulation during growth and differentiation of Friend murine erythroleukemia cells (MELC) have been investigated with respect to other erythroid and nonerythroid murine elements. Enzyme levels of uninduced MELC were in between the very low AChE contents of erythroid cells and the huge amounts of activity exhibited by megakaryocytes and platelets. After MELC commitment to terminal division, the enzyme-specific activity increased largely, approaching values that were much closer to those of thrombocytic than of normal erythroid elements. The bulk of AChE activity in MELC, megakaryocytes, and platelets was found to be located in the cytosol as a free-soluble form. Moreover, during incubation, MELC actively released large amounts of AChE into the medium, like it occurs in murine thrombocytes. Conversely, the enzyme of the erythroid elements was mainly associated with the membranes and was not released extracellularly. Experiments with inducers showed that changes in AChE- specific activity of MELC correlated directly with the arrest of cell proliferation rather than with the activation of differentiated erythroid functions. The inverse relationship existing between MELC growth rates and AChE levels was further supported by the relative enzyme activities of the slow- and fast-growing subclones. We conclude that uninduced MELC potentially share properties of both the erythroid and megakaryoblastic phenotype. The latter might be revealed by typical regulation of AChE activity according to a thrombocytic-like program activated upon MELC commitment to terminal division. Eventually, the inhibition of MELC growth by exogenous pure bovine AChE suggested that the secreted murine enzyme might serve as a potential negative signal of cellular replication.

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