Thymic epithelial cell line expresses transcripts encoding alpha-3, alpha-5 and beta-4 subunits of acetylcholine receptors, responds to cholinergic agents and expresses choline acetyl transferase. An in vitro system to investigate thymic cholinergic mechanisms.

Journal of neuroimmunology

PubMedID: 11431005

Mihovilovic M, Butterworth-Robinette J. Thymic epithelial cell line expresses transcripts encoding alpha-3, alpha-5 and beta-4 subunits of acetylcholine receptors, responds to cholinergic agents and expresses choline acetyl transferase. An in vitro system to investigate thymic cholinergic mechanisms. J Neuroimmunol. 2001;117(1-2):58-67.
Transcriptional and immunocytological characterization of thymic epithelial (TE) cell line TE750 shows that these cells, like primary TE cell cultures, transcribe alpha-3, alpha-5 and beta-4 acetylcholine receptor (AcChR) subunit genes while expressing cortical, medullary and epithelial differentiation thymic markers. Incubation of TE750 cells with nicotine decreases cell adherence and growth as measured through direct cytological observation and nucleic acid quantification, respectively. Physostigmine, a traditional cholinesterase inhibitor that also activates nicotinic AcChRs, reproduces the effects of nicotine. Strengthening the hypothesis that cholinergic receptors mediate the effects of physostigmine, acetylcholinesterase (AcChase) activity is not detected in TE750 cells. Also, like thymocytes, TE750 cells express choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), indicating that the natural transmitter AcCh can be produced locally within the thymic parenchyma. Taken together these findings indicate that TE750 cells in culture represent a suitable in vitro system for the analysis of cholinergic mechanisms operational in the thymic epithelium.