Calcium influx through muscle nAChR-channels: One route, multiple roles

Francesca Grassi, Sergio Fucile

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although Ca2+ influx through muscle nAChR-channels has been described over the past 40 years, its functions remain still poorly understood. In this review we suggest possible roles of Ca2+ entry at all stages of muscle development, summarizing the evidence present in literature. nAChRs are expressed in myoblasts prior to fusion, and can be activated in the absence of an ACh-releasing nerve terminal, with Ca2+ influx likely contributing to regulate cell fusion. Upon establishment of nerve-muscle contact, Ca2+ influx contributes to orchestrate the signaling required for the correct formation of the neuromuscular junction. Finally, in the mature synapse, Ca2+ entry through postsynaptic nAChR-channels - highly Ca2+ permeable, in particular in humans - acts on K+ and Na+ channels to shape endplate excitability. However, when genetic defects cause excessive channel activation, Ca2+ influx becomes toxic and causes endplate myopathy. Throughout the review, we highlight how Ricardo Miledi has contributed to construct this whole body of knowledge, from the initial description of Ca2+ permeability of endplate nAChR channels, to the rationale for the treatment of endplate excitotoxic damage under pathological conditions. This article belongs to the special issue on SI: Miledi´s contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 16 2019


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